Sunday, March 30, 2008

Daring Bakers - Dorie's Perfect Party Cake

March brought me my second challenge as a Daring Baker... in the form of CAKE!

Ahahaha I heart cake. And we were allowed to make a ton of modifications with regards to flavor and such - fun times. The original recipe was a lemon flavored cake with lemon flavored buttercream and raspberry jam. Many of the Daring Bakers chose to make the recipe as it was written, and all of their cakes looked delicious, so I'm sure I'll try it that way sometime in the future.

But when I made the cake, I had a ton of blueberries lying around and no raspberry jam! I actually consume a pretty inhuman amount of raspberry jam daily, so naturally my jar was nearing empty on cake baking day... So, out came the blueberries. And because there were blueberries, I really just couldn't resist adding cinnamon.

Well, it doesn't look much like any of the refined, beautiful party cakes that the other Daring Bakers made... First, I didn't exactly have a 'party' to bake for, so I halved the recipe. Hence, 2 layers instead of 4. Also, I kind of ran out of buttercream (next time I'll make a double recipe) halfway through. But, when you have as much blueberry amazingness as I did, who needs frosting on top of a cake? Not me. I just poured and poured and poured with the blueberries. Yum.

Apart from not having enough buttercream, I was pretty impressed with this recipe - the cake was nice and fluffy and was good at soaking up blueberry juice (hehe), and the buttercream was divine (lemony and cinnamon-y oh my!). This turned out to be a nice breakfast cake, actually... yeah, I had some for breakfast 3 mornings in a row. So, next time I have an actual party to bake for, I'm excited to try the unadulterated recipe and see how it turns out! It was a wonderful challenge from a wonderful hostess, Morven! Check out her blog for the recipe!

Friday, March 28, 2008

Honeyed Fluffer Nutter Cupcakes

If I have ever met a cupcake that defined "finger-licking good," then this is surely it.  Sticky, gooey, moist, fluffy, completely drenched in marshmallow, laced with honey... yeah... holy taters.

When I saw that the theme for Quirky Cupcake's March Cupcake Hero Challenge was Marshmallow, the first thought that came to my mind was, "aaahh fluffer nuttersss."  Though I knew that many people would probably take the same path (since come on, it's a classic!), I really just had to do it.  And I am so glad I did, because seriously these cupcakes were amazing!

And as I was planning out my recipe, I kept on fantasizing about having the peanut butter and marshmallow cupcakes, and then drizzling honey all over them!  Oh, the scandalous fantasies I have sometimes...  What can I say, I am as big a fan of peanut butter and honey as I am of peanut butter and marshmallow!  So, why not combine them?  Instead of drizzling the finished cupcakes with honey (I thought this would be too messy and the sweetness would be unbalanced), I decided to add honey to both the cake and the marshmallow.  This proved to be a fabulous idea - the honey gave the cake extra moistness and deepened the flavor, and it just made the marshmallow about 10 times more decadent than it would have been otherwise.  I mean, just the thought of honey marshmallow almost puts me in a sugar-induced coma.  

So the cupcakes ended up being peanut butter honey cake, filled and smothered in honey marshmallow fluff.  As you can see above, I played around with different ways of topping these.  First I tried a peanut butter/marshmallow swirly piping, which looked nice, but in the end, the cupcakes tasted way better with just the marshmallow on top.  As you can see below, they weren't as pretty this way... but oh it really didn't matter.  The next day, most of the marshmallow topping had melted into the cupcakes (omg YES!).  Sooo I just spooned some more over right before eating them, and enjoyed the marshmallow soakage heaven.  

There's really not much more I can say about these cupcakes besides that I urge you to try them if you like peanut butter and marshmallow.  Every bite is packed with flavor.  I've described them as well as I can, but really you just have to taste them to get the full effect!  So on with the recipe!

Honeyed Fluffer Nutter Cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

2 cups cake flour
1 cup boiling water
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 F.  
Whisk together the eggs with the sugar.  Then add the honey and peanut butter and whisk to combine.  Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and then add them gradually to the wet mixture.  Once everything is incorporated, slowly pour the boiling water into the batter while whisking.  When incorporated, the batter will be very liquidy.  
Pour into lined cupcake tins and put in the oven.  Bake for 5 minutes at 375.  Turn the oven down to 350 and bake for 3 more minutes.  Turn the oven down to 325 and bake for 3 more minutes or until the tops are golden and an inserted knife comes out clean.  Let cool.

For the marshmallow filling/topping:
(adapted from this recipe)

2 egg whites
1 cup light corn syrup
1 1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt

Beat the egg whites with the corn syrup and salt until soft peaks form.  
Gradually add the powdered sugar, beating until combined.  
Beat in the honey and vanilla extract.
This makes way more fluff than you'll need for the cupcakes, so you might want to halve the recipe.  I like having the extra so I can add more to the cupcakes right before eating them.  Also, I used the rest of my extra fluff in another delicious creation that is in my oven as I write this!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Caramel Soufflés

And this is what I made the night after the pie...

Because I did not have access to internet on this trip, and because I packed and left home in a huge rush, took with me only one cookbook, and didn't have time to put together any recipes before I left...  because of all this, I ended up making dessert from that same cookbook two nights in a row; oh my!  But oh, it is an amazing book.  And oh, they are amazing desserts!

Though it may look complicated, I assure you, this is a very simple recipe!  There's some crème anglaise, some hard caramel, some almonds... and the caramel soufflé itself is nothing but egg whites and caramelized sugar.  Ok, I admit, I was supposed to put some other stuff in it and kind of forgot... I'm a terrible baker, I know.  But in my defense, I was caught up in the glory of two of my favorite things in the world - meringue, and melted sugar.  Combine those two and Allison is sure to lose her wits.  So I completely forgot that other things were supposed to go in the mix... oh well, they clearly weren't all that important, because my results were fantastic!  So the recipe I'm giving has been modified to disclude anything that Allison forgot to include in her caramel meringue distracted state.  These things happen.  If you want the complicated version, I suggest you buy the book (I suggest you buy it, anyways), Lost Desserts by Gail Monaghan.  

Caramel Soufflés (adapted from Lost Desserts by Gail Monaghan)

For the soufflés:

4 egg whites
a small pinch of salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water

Preheat oven to 425 F.  Butter and sugar 4 ramekins. 
Beat the egg whites with the salt until stiff peaks form.
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved.  Let boil, covered for 3 minutes.  Uncover and continue to boil until the syrup becomes caramel in color.
Once it is ready, immediately remove caramel from the heat and pour slowly into the egg whites, beating constantly.  
Once the caramel is incorporated, gently spoon the mixture into prepared ramekins and place in a bain marie.
Put in the oven and immediately lower the oven temperature to 400 F.  After 5 minutes, turn off the oven, keeping the door closed.  After 15 more minutes, remove from the oven and place the soufflés on a wire rack to cool.  

For the crème anglaise:

1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the egg yolks until they are lightened and thick.
In a saucepan, heat the milk, cream, sugar, and salt.  Once it is simmering, slowly pour it into the egg yolks, beating constantly.  
Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and the mixture coats the back of the spoon.  
Strain into a bowl, add the vanilla extract, and refrigerate.

To assemble:  When both components are cool, spoon the crème anglaise onto serving plates.  Carefully invert the soufflés onto the plates.  Sprinkle with sliced almonds, if desired.  
To make the hard caramel drizzle, cook 1/2 cup sugar with 3 tablespoons water as described in the soufflé recipe.  When the mixture is ready, pour it directly over the plated soufflés in a decorative manner.  Let harden.  

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Chocolate Raspberry Angel Pie

Meeeep it has been so long since my last post, hasn't it?  Oh well, such is the price I pay for being busy making films and preparing for the Summer.  I extend my sincere apologies for my absence to anyone I may have left in a sad, sugarless state.  I assure you, this pie is more than enough to bring anyone into a happy, happy, sugar-filled state!  

I have been on Spring Break this past week, and I spent much of it relaxing in an internet-less condo in the snowy mountains with three of my friends (one other female and two male).  Since there was no internet, and since the men spent every minute of every day practically glued to their video games, the other girl and I basically spent all of our time in the kitchen!  I made a dessert every night, she made breakfast every morning, and we rotated and collaborated on the dinners.  And when I wasn't in the kitchen, I was out taking snowy mountain pictures!  It was wonderful; it is very, very rare for me to have the leisure to spend so much time in the kitchen, so I made sure to take full advantage of it.  

And here is some of the fruit of my labors (leisures?)

The crust is meringue, the filling is chocolate raspberry, and the topping is rose flavored whipped cream.  My friends loved it, and the four of us ate almost the whole thing in just two days.  Which is saying a lot considering the enormous amount of other food the other girl and I were forcing everyone to eat daily!  

Here is the recipe, which I adapted from the amazing cookbook, Lost Desserts by Gail Monaghan.  This is the first recipe I have tried from this book, but from the looks of it I will definitely try more in the near future!  You'll find this pie in the book without the raspberry and rose, but with espresso and kahlua.  

Chocolate Raspberry Angel Pie (adapted from Lost Desserts)

For the meringue crust:

4 egg whites
pinch of salt
1 cup plus 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 275 F.
Butter a 9-inch springform pan, line the bottom with parchment paper, and butter the paper.
Beat the egg whites with the salt to soft peaks.  
Add the sugar gradually while continuing to beat.  Once all the sugar has been added, add the vanilla.  Beat on high speed to stiff peaks.  
Spread the meringue over the bottom and sides of the pan, building the sides about 2 inches high.
Bake for an hour and 15 minutes.  Let cool.

For the filling:

12 oz. chopped semisweet chocolate
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup water
1 tsp raspberry extract

Gently heat the chocolate, salt, and water in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring constantly, until all the chocolate has melted.  
Remove from heat and whisk in the egg yolks, one at a time.  Add the raspberry extract.  Let cool completely.
Whip the cream until soft peaks form, and then fold into the cooled chocolate mixture.  
Spoon the mixture into the cooled meringue crust, cover and refrigerate until set (at least 4 hours).  

For the topping:

1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp rose water
Fresh raspberries

When ready to serve the pie, whip the cream with the sugar and rose water until stiff peaks form.  
Carefully remove the pie from the pan, and spread the whipped cream over the top.  Garnish with fresh raspberries and serve.  

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Chocolate, Hazelnut, and Kiwi... Best Breakfast Ever.

The best grocery shopping days are always the ones when I find good kiwi.  Yesterday was one of those days.  =)

Usually, when I come home with kiwi, I eat some of it right away straight with a spoon.  Sooo delicious.  And then for the next few days I'll have toast for breakfast, and I'll top the toast with nutella and kiwi slices.  It's an amazing way to start the day... and kiwi is healthy, right?

Yesterday I needed to bake cupcakes for my actors (I'm a film student, so I don't pay them with money haha), and I saw the kiwis, and I thought, "hey, if it's good on toast, it can be awesome on a cupcake!"  And it was.  Except I didn't have any nutella (because I thought I did when I was at the store and then once I got back I realized I was out and didn't have time to go back.... argh).  So I just added a ton of frangelico to everything, and I think it worked pretty well!

These are chocolate hazelnut cupcakes, topped with whipped milk chocolate hazelnut ganache, and kiwis.

For the cupcakes:
(adapted from this recipe)

2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup cocoa powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup frangelico liqueur
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 F.
Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in one mixing bowl. Combine the milk, buttermilk, oil, eggs, and liqueur in another bowl.  Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the milk mixture into it.  Mix until combined.  
Pour the batter into lined muffin tins, filling the cups 3/4 of the way.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until an inserted knife comes out clean and the tops spring back when touched.  
Makes about 25 cupcakes.

For the ganache:

1 cup chopped chocolate  (I used about 3/4 milk and 1/4 bittersweet)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tbsp frangelico liqueur

Heat the cream in a saucepan until it begins to simmer.  Pour over the chopped chocolate.  Wait for a few minutes, and then whisk the mixture until it is smooth.  Mix in the frangelico.  Cover and chill until set.  This takes a long time, but I put mine in the freezer since I was in a hurry.  So, in the freezer, it took about 2 hours.  
Once it is set, whip it until it is light and fluffy.  Immediately spoon, pipe, or spread over cooled cupcakes.

Slice up some kiwi and put it on top, and it's ready to eat!  YAY!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Bears are Fierce, but Ginger-Honey Bears are FEROSH!

Bears maul people.  ...Fierce?  Maybe.  

These bears will maul you with ginger.  And honey (they're bears!).  And they'll look fabulous in the process.  Now that is some Feroshity.  

But not all bears are made for mauling.  Meet Flowery Bear.... (*cough* RAMI-BEAR)

Flowery Bear is so not fierce.  (Tranny mess, indeeed)

Flowery Bear gets BEARCLAWED!

Muahahahaahahahaha.  He was delicous.

But the other bears were delicously:


For Fierce Ginger Honey Bear Cupcakes:

2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup boiling water
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 F.
Whisk together the sugar and eggs in a mixing bowl.  Add the honey and oil, and whisk until well combined.  
Sift together the flour, ginger, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Gradually add this to the egg mixture, mixing until incorporated.
Slowly pour the boiling water into the batter, stirring constantly until fully incorporated.  The batter should be liquid.
Pour the batter into lined muffin tins, filling the cups 3/4 of the way.
Bake for 30 minutes and let cool.
Makes about 18 cupcakes.

Creme Anglaise (ok, so I really just needed to use some egg yolks... but this worked really well with the cupcakes!)

1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk the yolks with the sugar in a bowl.  In a small saucepan, heat the milk and cream until it begins to simmer.  Slowly pour the heated milk mixture into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously.  When it is fully incorporated, return the mixture to the saucepan, add the vanilla, and cook over medium low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens.  
When cooled, spoon over the cupcakes.

To decorate the cupcakes, just melt some chocolate, put it in a pastry bag, and have at it!  Have at it in a ferociously creative way, that is.  

Bunnies get claw pwned by bears.  Fact.  =)

Created for the best blogging event ever, hosted by CB of I Heart Cuppycakes.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Chocolate Mint Pudding in Tuile Cups

Looks good, right?  Well it didn't look that good for long.  What the title should read is "Chocolate Mint Pudding in Soggy Tuile Cups."  Maybe I was asking for it, making them on a humid day and then filling them with... pudding.  But I had never made tuile before, so how would I have known?  

I just had an innocent chocolate mint craving, and thought that chocolate and mint needed to be in cold, creamy form (pudding!), and then I happened upon a recipe for mousse-filled almond tuile cups in one of my cookbooks, and thought that chocolate tuile would compliment the pudding perfectly.  Well, it did - it tasted amazing.  But after about 10 minutes the tuile just became the "crepe formerly known as tuile".  Yeah, totally flat and crepe-like.  And we ate these with forks.  Lame.  Delicious, but lame, indeed.  

Oh well.  Update with recipe to come when I figure out a better way to do this.  I'm thinking oreo crust.  Oh yeah, baby.  


Oreo crust worked (of course).

But I'm a dork and didn't write down anything when I made the pudding (typical 3 AM Allison retarded baking moment), so I'm not giving a recipe because I'll probably remember something wrong and then anyone who tries this will fail miserably and it will all be my fault.  Not that pudding is really that fickle of a thing... but still.

So I will leave you with this picture of minty goodness.  Yummmmm.

Ugh, I take that back.  Blogger is being really uncooperative and I have to go to class.  Picture will come later...