Monday, December 30, 2013

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars


There are not a lot of pictures of these beautiful cheesecake bars.  Not because they aren't beautiful but I was probably crying a little too much to take great pictures.  It turns out that crying makes things look blury and apparently blury pictures aren't super cool.  No, nothing is wrong.  These are happy tears...honest, they are.  No really....I'm not just saying it so that it will become true.

My oldest son is a senior in high school and it is college application time.  Actually, he has already applied early for a few colleges and the rest are going through now.  Six applications in all and only one in California....the rest are on the other side of the country.  Do you know how far away that is??  I don't either but it looks like it's pretty far.

I was super excited when we started this process and super proud that he wanted to apply to all of these awesome schools.  I kept encouraging him and telling him how proud I am of him.  Well.....now those colleges are starting to send letters.  He has already been accepted to two of them.  The first was Drexel University....um yep....the one in Pennsylvania (don't worry, I had to Google it too).....we live in California....that's kind of a long commute.  So anyways.....for all of you parents out there....don't be fooled by those darn college applications.  Yes, they seem all cool and fun and exciting...new adventures, growing up, becoming an independent adult, blah, blah, blah!  But really, they are a devious plan to move your kids halfway across the country and far away from you.

To help cheer myself up, I made these delish Raspberry Cheesecake Bars.  They are very pretty and would be the perfect dessert for a New Years Eve party, they are also super good for drowning your parental sorrows! (Eat two and follow with a glass of red wine)

Use any fruit filling or jam that you like....I am partial to raspberry!


p.s. I really am happy for my son.  He is ready to start off on a new adventure and I couldn't be more proud. Also, teenagers are known to have the occasional attitude that makes you think "huh, halfway across the country might not be so bad".


My Turn for us    
Daily Dish Magazine



Raspberry Cheesecake Bars adapted from Kraft Recipes

1 cup  graham crack crumbs
3 Tbsp.  sugar
3 Tbsp.  butter, melted
5 pkg.  (8 oz. each) Cream Cheese, softened
1 cup  sugar
3 Tbsp.  flour
1 Tbsp.  vanilla
1 cup  Sour Cream
4  eggs
1/3 cup  raspberry jam (can use any jam, fruit filling, lemon curd, etc.)

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Line a 13x9-inch pan with foil, with ends of foil extending over sides. Mix graham crumbs, 3 Tbsp. sugar and butter; press onto bottom of pan. Bake 10 min.

In an electric mixer beat cream cheese, 1 cup sugar, flour and vanilla with mixer until well blended. Add sour cream; mix well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing on low speed after each just until blended. Pour over crust. Gently drop small spoonfuls of jam over batter; swirl with knife. (I like to pipe the jam onto the batter in parallel lines and then cut through with knife....play around with it to create different patterns)

Bake 40 min. or until center is almost set. Cool completely. Refrigerate 4 hours. Use foil handles to lift cheesecake from pan before cutting to serve.

Store in refrigerator.

Recipe Shared On:
21st Century Housewife - Hearth and Soul Hop
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays
Keep Calm and Cook On - January
Strut Your Stuff Saturday Link Party
What'd You Do This Weekend
Treasure Box Tuesday
Foodie Friends Friday

Sunday, December 29, 2013

French Vanilla Ice Cream


Every year for Christmas Eve we have a Mexican feast and ice cream sundaes for dessert.  This year the boys and I decided to make the ice cream ourselves. (ok, I decided and then encouraged/forced them to make it with me)


We have our own ice cream maker but we haven't used it in years....still works great!  We decided to make French vanilla, if you are gonna make vanilla....you might as well go all the way and make the richest vanilla ice cream there is.  French vanilla has egg yolks and a custard like base rather than just cream and milk.  This of course makes it richer and better tasting (yes...and full of fat...but totally worth it).  


This was the perfect recipe to use up some of my fresh vanilla beans from Costco.  Popped that puppy right into my half and half mixture!


Use any ice cream maker you have on hand.  If you don't have one....well, that is just super sad.  You really need to get one, it is tons of  fun for the family!  (unless you have teenagers....they disappear after it goes in the maker and tell you to let them know when it's done).  :)


Here they are...proof that the boys do exist.  Max is working on the ice cream base while Zack is making chocolate chip cookies.  They disappeared soon after this picture was taken.  I'm not sure what they do in their rooms for all of those hours but I'm pretty sure it has something to do with Xbox or Playstation. 



French Vanilla Ice Cream adapted from The Pioneer Woman

1 whole Vanilla Bean, Split And Scraped
1 1/2 cups Half-and-half
1 1/2 cups Milk
2 cups Sugar
8 Large Egg Yolks
3 cups Heavy Cream

Instructions:

Heat half-and-half, milk, and 2 cups sugar in a saucepan over low heat, adding vanilla seeds and the bean to the mixture. Turn off heat when mixture is totally heated.  (Make sure to discard the bean before moving to the next step.)

Beat egg yolks by hand until pale yellow and slightly thick. Temper the egg yolks by slowly drizzling into the 1 1/2 cups of hot half-and-half mixture, whisking constantly. After that, pour the egg yolk/half-and-half mixture into the pan containing the rest of the half-and-half mixture. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture thickens. Drain custard using a fine mesh strainer, then pour into a bowl with the heavy cream. Stir to combine.

Chill mixture completely, then freeze in an ice cream maker following the maker's instructions. Place container in freezer to harden for at least four hours.

Enjoy!

Recipe Shared on:
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays
Hearth and Soul Blog Hop


Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cinnamon Twist Wreath

I know!  It's been a long time since I've written on the blog.  For those of you who don't know....I am back in school.  Last spring I was accepted to a two year Interpreter Preparation Program for American Sign Language.  They accept up to 10 students each year and we learn together in a co-hort for the next two years.  I knew the days would be long and that it would be difficult work but I had NO idea that it would be this much work.  There was no time for baking, not even for clients.  Luckily I am on winter break and I have time to catch up on my baking (and sleeping, housework, excercise, etc)! 


This yummy treat was my first venture back into the kitchen.  The boys were begging for cinnamon rolls and I wanted to do something a little different.  So I took a cinnamon roll recipe and rolled it up but instead of cutting it into individual rolls, I cut it lengthwise and twisted it up to make this beautiful wreath.  The recipe is actually makes two wreaths.


This is no more difficult than making any other yeast dough.  You can use my recipe or use your 
own if you have one that you absolutely love.


I filled mine with cinnamon sugar but you could add nuts, dried fruit or anything else that you could add to the filling of a cinnamon roll.  I was tempted to try chocolate chips but was worried it might be a little too messy.


As you can see above, you roll it up just like you do with cinnamon rolls.


Next just cut it lengthwise down the center and fold the two halves open next to each other.  Procede to braid the two halves and then  pinch the ends together and form a wreath.


Let it rise again for another 30 to 60 minutes and then bake!


Honestly, this would be delish with or without the glaze, but my boys wouldn't dream of eating a cinnamon roll without the glaze.  I myself would have prefered a cream cheese glaze but once again....
I am not the boss in the house when it comes to baked goods!



Slice it into wedges to serve.  We had ours on Christmas morning 
(I only got a small slice before the boys gobbled it all up)!



CINNAMON TWIST WREATH Adapted from Salad In a Jar
¾ cup milk (warmed for 1 minute in microwave)
1 package yeast (or 2 1/4 teastpoons)
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup butter (melted)
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
3 (1/4) cups all-purpose unbleached flour

Filling:
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Icing:
2 cups sifted powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla
2 + tablespoons milk 

Instructions:
Disolve yeast in milk in the bowl of an electric mixer.  Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes until it starts to bloom.  Using a dough hook begin to add your ingredients with the mixer on low. Slowly add the flour until completely combined.  Add flour 1 tablespoon at a time if too wet or water 1 teaspoon at a time if too dry.  Turn the mixer up to medium and mix until the dough is smooth, about 5 more minutes.  Place dough into a large buttered bowl and cover (I cover mine with a dish towel) and place in a warm space to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.  When dough has risen to double, remove from bowl and divide in half. Cover each portion with plastic wrap and let rest 10 minutes.

Roll first half into a 9 x 14 inch rectangle. Spread with half the butter. Sprinkle with half of filling mixture and press it gently into the dough. Starting at long side, roll up jellyroll style, making sure to keep the roll tight.  Pinch seam to seal.

Slice roll in half lengthwise. Place halves side by side, with cut surfaces facing up. Moisten one end of each portion with wet fingers. Push the ends together to join the two pieces of dough. Twist pieces together; shape into a ring and fit into a greased 8 or 9-inch pan. Moisten ends and press to seal.

Repeat process with other half of dough and filling. Cover and let rise in warm place until almost doubled in size, another 30 to 60 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand 3 minutes and transfer to serving platter with spatula.

Mix icing and drizzle over both of the wreaths.  Slice into wedges and serve!

Recipe shared on:
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

See....I'm still alive!  I have missed all of my blogging friends, all of my readers and I've really missed my oven!  It's not over yet, I am only a month into my two year program at school.  You probably won't see too much of me except for my weekly bloggy party with Christine at Esskunst.org.  I will still be baking for work and my kids, of course, but I won't always have time to blog about it.  I am in school full time at the most fabulous school, in the most fabulous program, with the most fabulous people!!  I am attending a small school called Ohlone College and I am part of an Interpreter Preparation Program to become an interpreter for the Deaf Community.  I LOVE my teachers and my classmates and it is worth every minute, but it pretty much means I don't have a life for two years.


Here is a picture of the 10 of us!  As you can see, we are pretty fabulous!  This program is worth every minute of stress, it is even worth missing my oven! I spend my days with these fabulous people in one classroom, pretty much straining my brain and eyes more than I knew I was capable of!


Occasionally I will try to bring you some yummy goodness!  Yesterday I made these fabulous Pumpkin Streusel Muffins.  I actually made them for school.  Occasionally we need a treat and I love using the kids as my guinnea pigs for new recipes.  I used an old Gourmet Magazine recipe for the muffin but I felt it needed a little something more so I added a streusel topping.  Delish!  Very moist and great flavor!  Next time I make them I may even add a little bit of cinnamon to the streusel topping, just for a little extra kick.


I was so distracted that I forgot to take pictures for the blog so my good friend, and classmate, Steev was kind enough to take some pictures at school.  I'm pretty sure his impromptu pictures turned out better than my staged, labored photo shoots!  He is awesome!

Hope you enjoy these muffins!  I will try to keep you all posted on how school is going!

xoxo

Pumpkin Streusel Muffins adapted from Gourmet Magazine via Muffin Top
Makes 1 dozen muffins

Muffin:
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpking
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pumpkin-pie spice
1.25 cups sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
Put oven rack in middle positiona nd preheat oven toe 350F. Put liners in muffin cups.

Whisk together flour and baking powder in a small bowl.

Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin-pie spice, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups.  Sprinkle with streusel topping.  Bake until puffed and golden brown and a wodden pick or skewer inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

Streusel:
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoon granulated sugar
4 tablespoon butter, melted
Place nuts in a large bowl with flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar and whisk to combine. Drizzle melted butter while tossing with a fork or spoon until large chunks form with small pea size pieces.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel - An Affair To Remember


Chocolate, salted caramel, toffee......these flavors are fabulous on their own, but most important, like the characters from An Affair To Remember....they were meant to be together!


Who wouldn't want to bite into this beautiful cupcake with all of those fabulous, intense flavors?  I'm drooling just thinking about them!


There are a lot of flavors going on in these cupcakes but is it too much?  No, no it is not. Trust me!  The chocolate cupcake has a mixture of cocoa powder and melted dark chocolate giving it a very rich chocolate flavor.  This is a new recipe for me (I'm always trying different recipes) and I thought it was delicious but I am still in search of my all time favorite chocolate cupcake.  The moistness was there, the flavor was there (the flavor was fabulous), I just want a little more height and airiness!  


These cupcakes are filled with a caramel sauce that is thick and delicious and there is a slight hint of saltiness. 


I used Maldon salt flakes and so there is also the occasional surprise crunch from one of the flakes. Delicious!  If you don't have Maldon salt, you can use your favorite sea salt.  I think that a flake or courser salt would give a better texture but the flavor would definitely still be there with a finer salt.


We all know what my favorite part of the cupcake was.....the swiss meringue buttercream!  Not just my plain buttercream either.....no sir, I mixed in some of that gooey salted caramel.  Best buttercream EVER!  Top that off with a bite size toffee bar and a drizzle of some more caramel....PERFECTION!  


Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel - An Affair To Remember

The Cupcake: via Cupcake Project
1/4 cup (2 ounces) butter, room temperature
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
2 ounces of your dark chocolate
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (4 1/2 fluid ounces) vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup (2 3/4 ounce) full-fat sour cream
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup (2 ounces) cocoa powder (natural or dutched will both work with this recipe)
1/2 cup (4 fluid ounces) room temperature water

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix butter and sugar until fully combined. The end result should look like wet sand.

Melt the chocolate in the microwave or in a double boiler.  Once the melted chocolate is cool enough to touch, add it to the butter/sugar mixture and mix until just combined.  Mix in eggs and egg yolks one at a time until just combined.  Mix in oil, vanilla, and sour cream until just combined.

Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cocoa powder into a separate medium-sized bowl. Use a fork or a whisk to ensure that the ingredients are mixed well after sifting.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in three additions, mixing until just combined after each addition.  Mix in water until just combined.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake for 16-18 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake should come out clean. 

Salted Caramel Sauce: Via Two Peas and Their Pod
2 cups granulated sugar
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pieces
1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes

First, make sure you have all of the ingredients ready. Once you start the caramel sauce you have to pay close attention so you don't burn it. To begin, heat the sugar over medium high-heat in the bottom of a heavy 2-3 quart saucepan. When the sugar starts to melt, start whisking the sugar. The sugar will clump up, but keep whisking. It will continue to melt. When the sugar is melted, stop whisking. You can swirl the pan to move the sugar around.

Continue cooking the sugar until it reaches a deep amber color. Make sure you watch the pan very closely. This is where it is easy to burn the caramel. You want the caramel to reach 350 degrees F. If you are new to making caramel, I suggest using a thermometer.

As soon as the sugar reaches the dark amber color, carefully add the butter. Whisk until butter is melted. If the sugar gets stuck to the whisk, you can switch to a wooden spoon.

Remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour in the heavy cream. Whisk until cream is incorporated and caramel is smooth. Whisk in the fleur de sel or Maldon sea salt flakes.

Let the caramel sauce cool for about 10 minutes in the pan. Pour the caramel into a large jar and cool to room temperature. Put the salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator. Store the salted caramel sauce in the refrigerator for about a month.

Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream: adapted from marthastewart.com
5 large egg whites
11/2 cup sugar
4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/3 cup caramel sauce

Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees F while whisking constantly.

Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl, fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume.

Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled looking-this is normal. Keep mixing and it will become even and smooth again. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine. Add caramel sauce and mix to combine.


Assemble the cupcakes:
Bite size heath bars
Maldon Salt to sprinkle on caramel

Use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces (or eat them all when no one is looking...it's your call). Spoon caramel filling into the cupcake. Sprinkle a little more maldon salt on top of the caramel filling.  Frost with buttercream and drizzle with more of the caramel sauce, then decorate with a bite sized heath bar!

Recipe Shared On:
Chocolate, Chocolate, and More - Thursday's Treasures
21st Century Housewife - Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
Memories By The Mile
Tumbleweed Contessa - What'd you do this weekend

Friday, August 9, 2013

S'mores Cupcakes


HAPPY S'MORES DAY!!! Ok, I'm a day early (It's really on the 10th)....but I'm so excited!  I LOVE s'mores!


You may have noticed I have a little case of s'mores addiction.  I'm not sure what gave it away....was it my S'mores Cookies?  My S'mores Whoopie Pies?  My S'mores Pop Tarts?  I have even made S'mores brownies but those haven't been photographed and placed on the blog yet.


Maybe I need to find a 12 step program for S'mores to go along with my 12 step program for Swiss Meringue Buttercream.  The problem is really not that bad yet, but I can see how it may escalate in the future!  Actually, I'm pretty sure it's not all my fault....I blame the kids.  They are the one's always begging for S'mores!  Yep, that's it, it's the kids fault!


I used Martha Stewart as a guide for these cupcakes, modified a bit, but only to suit my own taste (and possible laziness).  These are delicious with their graham cracker crust, fudgy chocolatey cupcake layer and that super yummy toasted marshmallow frosting on top!  Doesn't really get much better than that!

You can use the kids as an excuse to make these yummy cupcakes, use the National S'mores Day as an excuse, or just admit it....you are making them because S'mores are awesome! 

Enjoy!

Photobucket 

S'mores Cupcakes adapted from Marthastewart.com

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line 2 standard muffin tins with paper liners.

Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

Place graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a large bowl; stir until well combined.  Place 1 tablespoon graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each prepared muffin cup. Use the bottom of a small glass to pack crumbs into the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Bake for 5 minutes.  Set aside.

Chocolate Cake Layer:
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water

Sift sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix ingredients together on low speed.

In a large bowl, mix together eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and beat on medium speed for 30 seconds. Scrape down sides of bowl and continue mixing on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add boiling water and stir to combine.

Fill the cooled muffin cups 3/4 with batter and bake for 14 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool on rack.

Marshmallow Frosting:

8 large egg whites
2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Hershey's Chocolate Squares

Place egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer. Set over a saucepan with simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and whites are warm to the touch, 3 to 4 minutes.

Transfer bowl to electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, and beat, starting on low speed, gradually increasing to high, until stiff, glossy peaks form, 5 to 7 minutes. Add vanilla, and mix until combined.

Transfer marshmallow frosting to a pastry bag fitted with the tip of your choosing.  Pipe frosting onto cupcakes.  Using a kitchen torch, lightly brown the frosting. Stick a square of Hershey's into each cupcake for decoration and serve immediately.

Recipe Shared on:
Chocolate, Chocolate and More - Thursdays Treasures
Wednesday's Adorned From Above Blog Hop
My Turn For Us - Freedom Fridays
Love Bakes Good Cakes - All My Bloggy Friends
21st Century Housewife - Hearth and Soul Blog Hop
#CakeFriday Linky Party

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Zucchini Corn Fritters


It's National Zucchini Day and I'm on a quest for the perfect zucchini fritter!  I love zucchini and I'm always looking for new ways to cook them.  About 6 months ago I tried my first zucchini fritter and I fell in love.  Who doesn't love food in pancake form?


I've made them a few times over the months and while I loved them, I was looking for them to have a little something more.  Recently I saw this recipe on Foodnetwork.com from their magazine, it has corn kernals and cornmeal in it, a little extra added texture.  I made my first batch last night.  The recipe called for sauteeing the onion and some garlic and then adding it in, I got lazy and omitted this step and just grated my onion right in with my zucchini.  Feel free to make it either way you like, sometimes easier is just better.


Fried these off in a non stick-pan with a little vegetable oil and topped them with a dollop of sour cream. Super yummy!  Perfect for a nice summer lunch, side dish or light summer dinner.  Next time I may kick it up a notch and add just a tiny bit of finely diced jalepeno pepper to the fritters, add a little lime juice and lime zest to the sour cream.....and....voila!  Perfect recipe! 

Enjoy!


Zucchini Corn Fritters adapted from Food Network Magazine

2 medium zucchini, coarsely shredded
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 small onion, shredded
1/2 cup corn kernals (fresh or frozen) 
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
Vegetable oil, for frying
Sour Cream, for serving

Wrap the zucchini and onion in a kitchen towel and squeeze the liquid out over kitchen sink, place in a bowl and add the corn kernals.

Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk the buttermilk and egg in a large bowl, then stir in the zucchini mixture. Add the cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.

Heat about 1/8 inch vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, scoop scant 1/4 cupfuls of the batter into the oil and use the back of the measuring cup to flatten the scoops. Cook until the fritters are golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm or at room temperature with a dollop of sour cream. (You can make the fritters up to 2 hours ahead; reheat in a 375 degrees F oven on a rack set on a baking sheet.)

Recipe shared on:

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream


This is going to just be a quick post today.  It's my Birthday!  To celebrate, the boys and I packed up the car, put on some music, picked up my Mom and headed up North to my visit my Sissy and family in Washington!  This has become our annual summer trip, heading up away from the Bay Area, away from work, away from electronics!  (yes, I realize I'm on the computer posting this right now....but I'll turn it off soon....I promise).

I'm sure the car ride was a treat for my Mom.  11 1/2 hours in a car with two teenage boys is a treat for anyone!  Luckily...they were on their best behavior for Grandma and we made it here without me strapping either of them to the roof!  It helps that they think Grandma walks on water and is the most perfect human alive.  Not once was I subjected to their usual fighting, hitting, burping, or farting contests.  Maybe I should take her on all of our road trips!

Today we head up to the cabin and off the grid, so I will leave you with these yummy cupcakes!  I LOVE Ina Garten!  Most of her recipes turn out great and are foolproof.  The only changes I made to this recipe was to not add espresso to the cupcake batter.  Ina has a thing for espresso powder and as much as I love coffee....I really don't like it in my cupakes when mixed with peanut butter!  Next time I make these cupcakes I will play around with them a bit.  I think it would be fun to bake a mini reese's in the middle of the cupcake and then sprinkle the top of the frosting with chopped reese's.  Overkill? I think not!!!  :)


Before I leave you with the recipe.....BIG shout out to all of my Baker Becky followers in the Ridgefield/Vancouver area!!!  I'm here...I'm here!!!  I'm soooo close....but without any of my baking supplies!  It would be so much fun to come up with my supplies sometime and do some baking at my sister's house for all of you!  Hmmmmm.....maybe next summer!

Enjoy the recipe!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream via Barefoot Contessa At Home

Cupcake:
12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
½ cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt

Peanut Butter Buttercream:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and two sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it’s completely blended.

Divide the batter among the cupcake pans. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.

Frost each cupcake with peanut butter buttercream.

Buttercream:
Place the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Recipe Shared On:
Foodie Friends Friday
Esskunst Coffee Klatch Friday
Love Bakes Good Cakes - All My Bloggy Friends
Chocolate, Chocolate and More - Thursday's Treasures

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Chocolate Chocolate Cake!


Recently, my sweet little baby boy had a birthday!  He turned 17......17?!?  I know.....I'm much too young to have a 17 year old! I must have had him when I was 10 years old...right?! Come on.....humor me, I love living with my grand illusions!  ;)


Between the 17 year old, the 14 year old and the dog....my house is never boring and it's never quiet but there are always willing food testers!  Being the chocolate cake fanatic that he is, Zack chose this recipe for his birthday.  Ina Garten's chocolate cake from her cookbook "Barefoot Contessa at Home".


This is a super easy and delicious recipe!  I love Ina's recipes so I followed this one, only making the change of taking out the espresso from the frosting.  I thought that the coffee in the cake was good but in the frosting would be overkill.  It's a pretty rich frosting so I think I made the right call.  The entire cake was gone in one sitting....pretty sure this means they LOVED it!


Happy Baking!!  :)

CHOCOLATE CHOCOLATE CAKE! adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups good cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 2 8" round baking pans with non-stick spray, then line the bottom of the pans with parchment rounds and spray the parchment paper.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. On low speed, add the chocolate to the butter mixture and mix until blended.  Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Recipe shared on:
Chocolate, Chocolate, and more - Thursday's Treasures
Wednesday's Adorned From Above Blog Hop
Rediscovering Lost Arts From Our Mothers - Tried and True Recipes
Foodie Friends Friday
Esskunst - CakeFriday Coffee Klatch Linky Party

Monday, July 15, 2013

Alice In Wonderland Cupcakes!


Just a quick little post today.  No recipes or instructions....just some more of the cuteness coming out of my kitchen!  :)


I had a client ask if I could make "Alice In Wonderland" themed cupcakes for her daughter's 14th Birthday party.  "Sure", I said....no problem!  I might just be a crazy woman, because I have very little experience with fondant.  But maybe I'm not so crazy....because I think these cupcake toppers turned out perfect!


Pretty adorable!  The Blue Caterpillar and the teapots are my favorites but I love the Tweedle Dee/Dum too!!


Chesire Cat is pretty cute too!


Baking and cooking can be such a fun adventure for me, hope that it is for all of you too!

 I hope that you enjoy looking at these adorable cupcakes!  Mostly I hope that you are inspired to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, even if you think you can't do it!


Happy Baking!

~Baker Becky