Posts Tagged ‘cupcake’

Pepper was chasing what I thought was a mouse in the yard, behind the trash bins, under leaves, then around the corner.  It turned out to be this guy:

what sort of lizard are you?

To my surprise, it survived the attack of the Boston Terrier reasonably unscathed.  Mind you, he (or she) is missing some tail.  I’m hoping the tail wasn’t poisonous to dogs, I’m not sure if Pepper ate the tip of her prey or not.  There are bright turquoise and black stripes on the belly of this beast, all the more reason for my concern of toxicity.  He lived through the night in a bucket with water and rocks to lay on.  Not sure how long it will take residence here, this house is starting to feel like 64 Zoo Lane.

Then there’s the bees.

Don’t worry, she is stingless and her army of workers are very sweet.

The monkeys (Big Brother and Little Sister) provide everyone with entertainment.  They were playing in the boxes large enough to house themselves that arrived today.  The boxes held my latest kitchen toy, a vacuum sealer!  Haven’t had a chance to play with it yet but I have plenty of work lined up for it.  I had to put the worker bees (fondant cupcake toppers) in a honey box (fridge) to keep the monkeys from eating all of them.

Dogs chasing lizards.  Monkeys eating bees.  What’s next?!?

The bee model is for Big Brother’s insect project for school.  The chocolate cupcakes, well it’s a muffin recipe actually, are for his class snack.  His teacher has no idea that I made these for everyone, can’t wait to see her reaction!

The bees were my second fondant decoration (read about the flowers here).  A simple construction of yellow jelly bean shape bodies, a black stripe, and white wings.  The wings were a hand-made pop can punch, no need to buy all those little tiny cutters when simple shapes can be made at home.  Carefully cut a strip of tin pop can (circumference cut not a top to bottom cut), shape it as best you can, hold the shape or use some scotch tape to stick the ends together.  Voilà!  Instant fondant cutter!

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I was outside enjoying a day of unseasonably warm weather with the kids.  Little Sister spied her other costume for Halloween hanging in the closet.  She pointed and twinkled on her toes, giving me the “Mama, I want!” command.  It wasn’t long before she pulled her Hello Kitty rain boots on and tromped out the back door in to the sunlight and cool grass.  Well, our yard is mostly weeds right now, but it’s a beautiful emerald green and a break from the drought stricken brown turf.

I’ve had a used food processor on Kitchen Toy Island for almost a year.  It has been sitting there wondering when it would be of service.  The recipe for Fairy Cakes in Nigella Lawson’s How to Eat instructs you to use a processor to make baking that much easier.  She notes that these cupcakes are what she whips up in a hurry for parties for her children.  We were not having a party but Little Sister’s outfit reminded me of the Fairy Cakes. You can make this recipe even if you haven’t gone to a fancy pastry school.

Fairy Cakes

Adapted from How to Eat by Nigella Lawson

Makes 10-12 regular cupcakes, or 24 mini cupcakes

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup soft butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp milk
  • (optional) food coloring, I used rose petal for the mini fairy cakes

Pre-heat the oven to 400ºF for regular size cupcakes, 350ºF for mini cupcakes.

Add everything but the milk to a food processor and pulse until combined.  Add the milk and pulse until it is smooth.  Evenly distribute the batter to the tins.  You can use paper liners or butter the tins.

Bake the regular size for 15 minutes or the mini size for 12-15 minutes at the specified temperatures.  A toothpick should come out clean either way.

Vanilla Fairy Cake with Chocolate Frosting

I baked the regular size cakes a bit too long and they were dry, I kept a better watch on the minis.  Next time I will add some yogurt or sour cream, or cinnamon apple sauce for more moisture.

Remove the cakes to a cooling rack as soon as they come out of the oven.  Wait for the cakes to cool completely before frosting them.  Feel free to perform quality assurance tests while they cool.

Mini Pink Fairy Cakes with Chocolate Frosting

Refridgerationless Frosting

I found this via search and modified it

Makes 2 cups of frosting, plenty for 2 dozen regular cupcakes, or 4 dozen mini cupcakes.

  • 1 cup shortening (Crisco)
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy creamer (Coffee Mate)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 16 oz confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/4 cup water (or coffee if using cocoa)
  • (optional) 2 Tbsp Dutch cocoa powder

Start with a little water (or coffee) at first and add up to 1/2 cup until you reach the consistency you desire.   Blend in a food processor or with a handheld mixer until fluffy.  Instead of cocoa you could add food coloring for matching frosting to the cake color.

The great thing about this frosting it that you won’t have to worry about keeping those frosted fairy cakes in the fridge while you wait for party guests to arrive.  I kept the cakes in an air-tight container for two days and the frosting didn’t change in taste or texture.  Mind you, using Crisco as a base does not give you the best “mouth feeling” or flavor, I suggest cutting it with butter or find a way to flavor the frosting (imitation butter, almond extract, Jell-O?)  I used cocoa and coffee since they were available at the time.  I was tempted to try adding strawberry Jell-O powder to the mix, that would give it flavor and color!

More experiments needed.  If any of you reading this have a better, more natural, way to make this sort of frosting please tell me in the comments below!

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First, I apologize for licking the frosting before taking a picture.  It was delicious, so sue me!

Hey Cupcake! is one of the many roadside attractions for foodies in Austin.  There is a silver trailer not far from my office sporting a Johnny Appleseed scale cupcake.  Odd?  Not for Austin.

Save up those greenbacks and head out to one of four trailers (one is mobile now, check Twitter) or HQ on Burnet Road.  $3 for a cupcake might sound steep, but wait until you try one.  My mouth is watering again just thinking about the LuvCake (shown above).  The flavours won’t bash you over the head, but the texture and moistness might.  This little lass is topped with strawberry cream cheese frosting and has a few chocolate chips in the decadent chocolate cake.  Could I bake such a treasure?  With practise, sure.  Getting a cupcake while on the run and feeling a little low (sugar and emotion wise)?  Why not!  I’ll just have to swallow the price tag for a convenient cupcake boost.

To see the epic birth of Hey Cupcake! go here.

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This recipe was the winner on Food52.com for “Your Best Gluten-Free Baked Good”.  Since it sounded simple and had rave reviews by fellow cooks on the website, I decided to give it a go.  Rice flour was the only extra special ingredient, and these days you can find it quite easily.  I found a brown rice flour at Sprouts.

The author says these cakes don’t rise very much while baking, but mine certainly did.  Most of the caramelized crusty edge was left behind on the muffin tin.  Next time I will fill 2/3rds full.

The only other comment I have is the amount of butter.  Maybe it was a mistake?  I think 1 cup (2 sticks) of butter for a dozen cupcakes is over doing it.  What should have been light fluffy insides were actually heavy grease bombs.  Next time I will use 1/2 cup butter.

This batter would be an excellent substitute for cobbler (if you reduce the butter).

To get the recipe click here

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Little Sister has now reached her first birthday and I’m astonished at how quickly this year flew by. The whole family packed up to go to the grandparent’s house, only 5 to 6 hours away, for a special celebration. Both Little Sister and Grandpa had birthdays this weekend, so we combined the two together. I made the appetizers and sweets, Grandma made brisket and rice, Tia made her beans.  Thank you very much to those who came out for some good laughs, invincible piñatas, and great company!

(red platter) Apple Cider Brined Carrots, (yellow platter) Skinny Pigs in a Blanket

Here’s what I contributed to the birthday bash.

Skinny Pigs in a Blanket

I’ve been reading Claire Robinson’s book (5 Ingredient Fix) and there’s some great pieces of advice in there, especially how you should use the best ingredients you can afford since there are so few components to a dish. This holds true for many recipes and I applied the philosophy to my Skinny Pigs in a Blanket by using super lean smoked sausage (which I found on sale last week) and pungent sharp cheddar. When you use sharp cheeses you need less of it to get the flavor to appear, this also means less fat. All three ingredients were toned down in fat levels, but flavor was not sacrificed. There were no leftovers whatsoever.

  • Lean Smoked Turkey Sausage
  • Extra Sharp New York Style Cheddar
  • Reduced Fat Crescent Rolls

Cut 3 inch sections of sausage, then quarter them lengthwise. Slice the cheese the same length, use as thin or thick a slice as you like. Wrap the sausage and cheese in a crescent roll, I had no fancy way of doing this, just cover as much as you can with the dough. Bake at 375 degrees for about 14 minutes or the tops are golden brown.

Pumpkin Cupcakes

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (15 oz) pumpkin puree
  • water
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 teasp cinnamon
  • 1/8 teasp allspice
  • 1/8 teasp cloves

Follow the directions on the box, except for the amount of water.  I used about 1/4 cup of water in my batter, the remaining amount will be added by the pumpkin.  You can roast and puree your own pumpkin (I’ve also used calabaza squash) for this recipe. 

pumpkin cupcakes

Pecan Raisin Tarts

Tart Shell:
  • 1 cups cake flour
  • 1 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teasp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp flour
  • pinch of sea salt

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees, that’s 175 deg C for my Canadian folks.  Cut the cold butter into the flour and salt until it feels like wet sand and will hold its shape when pinched.  Grease a muffin tin (or use silicone to skip this step, and I would have used my silicone molds because these little tarts stuck to my pan!) with butter.  Take a heaping tablespoon of the pastry and push it around the walls of the mold, then add a little more to cover the bottom.  Repeat until all 12 molds are filled.  Bake for 10  to 12 minutes, the outside edge should begin to brown. 

Whilst the shells bake, prepare the filling.  Set the raisins and pecans aside and whisk everything else in a bowl.  When the tart shells come out, they will look poofy, don’t worry, distribute the pecans and raisins to each tart, you can push them down in the middle gently.  Pour the egg mixture into each tart shell, then quickly get them back into the oven for another 20 minutes.  The result is a flaky shell with a sticky nutty caramel interior.  Let the tarts cool in the pan, this will be the hardest part but trust me, if you try to take them out while they are still warm you will lose a few chunks.  Yep, I did it.  So now you know what not to do, or use those fancy silicone molds instead.

Apple Cider Brined Carrots

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 teasp black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 teasp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teasp whole coriander seeds
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 2 whole Serrano peppers, stems removed
  • baby carrots, rinsed well

Prepare a glass jar by sterilizing in a hot water bath for 10 minutes, I used an empty pasta sauce jar (Classico uses thick glass which should not break if you reuse them * however, do so at your own risk).  Pack the onion slices pulled apart into individual rings into the bottom of the jar, then the peppers and carrots.  I will also suggest adding the spices to the jar, as the mustard seeds stuck to the pot where the brine was made.  Next, make the brine.  Pour the vinegar, water, salt and sugar into a pot and bring it up to a boil while stirring to dissolve the salt.  Let it boil for a minute then carefully pour into the jar.  Cover the jar with a lid.  Tip: don’t put the glass jar on a cold countertop, the temperature difference may crack the glass when the hot brine is added.  Let the jar cool then refrigerate.  I made these carrots two days prior to the party so they would be good and pickled for my platter.

Caramel Popcorn with Peanuts and Sunflower Seeds

(adapted from Emeril’s Microwave Nutty-Caramel Corn)

  • 14 cups freshly popped popcorn
  • 1 jar roasted peanuts (no shells)
  • 1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds (no shells)
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup light brown sugar packed
  • 1/2 cup corn syrup
  • 1 teasp vanilla
  • sea salt
  • 1 teasp baking soda
  • large paper sack

D – this is for you!

Combine the popcorn, nuts, and seeds in the paper sack.  In a microwave-safe bowl, add the butter, sugar, syrup, vanilla and pinch of sea salt.  Microwave on high for 1 minute.  Stir.  Return to the microwave for 2 minutes.  Stir again.  If the brown sugar feels grainy under the (wooden) spoon, pop it back in for another minute.  Sprinkle the baking soda into the hot gooey mess and stir carefully, the soda will bubble and foam.  Pour the caramel into the paper sack, toss the popcorn around to coat.  Stuff the paper sack into the microwave for 1 minute on high.  Then shake it, preferably with oven mitts.  Spread the sticky popcorn on two wax paper lined baking sheets (or kitchen counter) and if you like salty-sweet nibbles add a dash more sea salt while the caramel is hot.  Let it cool then store in an airtight container for up to 3 days, if it will survive that long. 

Hummus and Chorizo Spread

I know what you’re thinking, chorizo is so greasy why on Earth would you use it?  Well, this is not your typical chorizo – this is homemade lean chorizo from the Grandparent’s kitchen.  I’ve requested a weekend to learn how to make this delightfully versatile sausage.  When I learn how to make it, I’ll let y’all know!  This spread was unexpectedly tasty and incredibly easy to prepare, your friends will think you spent all afternoon putting the dish together.  Here is our little secret… buy the hummus from your deli!  I even took two flavors, regular and roasted red pepper hummus, just to have a taste of each.  Grab some low-fat multi-grain pita chips and you’re set.  Well, except for the chorizo, stay tuned for that…  Now you have everything needed to put this spread to work.  Brown the chorizo (drain on paper towel if it’s not lean), spread the hummus on a plate (half regular and half red pepper – or pick the flavors you want), top with a sprinkle of chorizo.  Done.

Now go grab an iced tea and enjoy!

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