Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sugar & Spice + Icing = makes everything nice!

Recently my boyfriend and I celebrated our two year anniversary. Although he was taking me out to be wined and dined at a fancy French restaurant, I wanted to bake him something special.
Coconut cupcakes are one of his favorite treats, but I just didn’t see us getting through a batch of cupcakes between the two of us at the house...and worse what if he were to get sick of his favorite sweet?!
Instead I baked him another version of the classic (and his favorite cookie) oatmeal raisin cookie! I have baked him oatmeal raisin cookies quite a few times. At times I use the recipe underneath the lid of the Quaker oats box, other times my mother’s recipe for her oatmeal crisps. This time around I thought I’d switch it up and make a completely different recipe. (I never knew there were so many various ways to bake oatmeal raisin cookies!)
I came across this recipe stalking one of my various food blogs…I think it is obvious what attracted me to this ORC recipe…the maple icing drizzled on top perhaps?!

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
From  Martha Stewart Living 
Makes about 5 dozen (or about 2 dozen if you’re using a jumbo cookie scoop like I do)

3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together oats, flour, wheat germ, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl; set aside. Put butter and sugars in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Mix in eggs and vanilla.

Reduce speed to low. Add oat mixture; mix until just combined. Mix in raisins.
Using a 1 1/2-inch ice cream scoop, drop dough onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper, spacing 2 inches apart.

Bake until golden and just set, about 14 minutes. They should still seem slightly soft. Let cool on sheets on wire racks 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks using a spatula; let cool completely. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Maple Syrup Icing

1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Whisk confectioners' sugar, syrup, and 3 tablespoons water until smooth. Drizzle over cookies, let set. (Note: if your icing seems too thin for your liking, you can always add more powdered sugar until it’s the right consistency)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes!

What makes the history of Snickerdoodles so interesting?

1. You won't find recipes for snickerdoodles in early American cookbooks.
---You WILL find plenty of recipes for currant (they are like raisins) cakes and jumbles combining sweet spices, nuts and dried fruits
2. Some food historians say snickerdoodles are a New England recipe [English origin].
---Others say it is from the Pennsylvania Dutch or German origin.

ACTUALLY! None of that is that interesting to me….what I find most fascinating about the its taste- it is so damn good!
This past Wednesday Top Chef “Just Desserts" premiered! So in honor of the show’s d├ębut I had to bake something! (What? I can’t watch a cooking show especially one dedicated to desserts and not eat while watching! )
Since Snickerdoodle cookies are the office favorite I decided to instead bake the classic cookie as a cupcake! Ironically enough the first “quick bake” challenge on the show was a cupcake challenge.
There is not much more I can really say about this cupcake, it is really quick and easy to make, and the icing is divine. Best icing I have made yet-due to the use of a real vanilla bean I am sure!

Warning: my camera broke... of course it would..perfect timing..after telling the world about my blog..sigh..anyway a new camera is coming my way soon, so for this entry please bear with me. I took the photos on my cell phone..however if you'd like to see a more aesthetically appetizing photo visit the busty baker site!

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes
Adapted from Martha Stewart Cupcakes
Makes 28 cupcakes

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¾ cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¼ cups milk

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners; set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, salt, and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add vanilla extract. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.
4. Divide the batter evenly among lined cups, filling each about three-quarters full (about 2 tablespoons batter). Bake, rotating halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center of a cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Allow to cool in tins for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Vanilla Bean Buttercream

4 cups confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon, for dusting
2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for dusting

If you are not aware of how to scrape a vanilla bean see below:
-cut vanilla bean down the middle in half
-scrape our sides of vanilla bean

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract, vanilla beans, and salt, and beat until combined. Add confectioner’s sugar, a half cup at a time, beating until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
2. Using a pastry bag fitted with a decorating tip, pipe frosting onto cupcake: hold bag over cupcake with the tip just above the surface and squeeze to create a blob of frosting, then release pressure and pull up to form a peak.
3. In a small bowl, mix together cinnamon and sugar. Dust mixture over top the peaks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

5 pounds of sugar later...

Welcome to Sweet M.E.! A sugary source of everything sweet in my everyday life. If you know me, you know I have a slight infatuation with sweets! I have tried numerous times not to eat sweets but I literally can’t put myself to bed without having dessert every night. Instead of keeping this guilty pleasure of mine to myself, I thought I would share it and my love for baking with you. 
Although I am pretty knowledgeable and always suggesting how to make things low fat, non fat, lo-carb, no sugar added, I have to admit I am best at baking the realness! And as my mother says, “If your going to do something, do it right!” Therefore if we are going to bake-we must bake right!
Besides sharing my hobby and experimentation of baking, I would like to also share websites, recipes, and other eateries which share my love of sweets!
So please become a follower, comment, bake, eat and enjoy! xo-M.E.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Extreme blueberry makeover: Blueberry frosted cupcakes!

After my mufftasttrophe (muffin + catastrophe), my craving for something blueberry was not yet fulfilled, and I had about a half of bag of frozen blueberries left over.

I also needed to redeem myself in the office after my muffin mishap, so along came the creation of a vanilla cupcake with a blueberry-vanilla frosting!
I look forward to trying other vanilla cake recipes, but boy they will be hard to top Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla cupcake recipe!
I used both his cupcake and frosting recipe (via Martha Stewart), but added a touch more vanilla and baking powder than he did; however his recipe is as follows:

Vanilla Cupcakes:                                                            
Makes about 30 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.
2.  In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.
3.  Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about 2/3 full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.
4.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Serve at room temperature.   

Vanilla Frosting:
Makes enough for 30 cupcakes

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
6 to 8 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. 
Spoon blueberry puree a spoonfull at a time, while mixing up the vanilla frosting. Keep adding until your  icing has met your blueberry desired tartness!  If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.

Blueberry Puree:
1/2 cup to 1 cup blueberries washed

1.  Put the blueberries in a saucepan. Heat until boiling. Yes, the blueberries boil! They will start turning dark bluish purple and start releasing juice into the pan which will bubble.
2.  Reduce heat to low and allow to simmer. Stir occasionally. You want to end up with a nice blueberry goo.
3.  If you'd like place blueberries in a food processor and pulse until completely blended. Otherwise, place blueberry mixture in bowl, mash it up with a wooden spoon-cover, place in fridge until you are ready to make icing!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

No butter added muffins anyone?

Yes this sounds like a nice proposal, but a muffin without butter as a baking ingredient is highly unlikely.
I was not going to include this baking mishap, but then I thought…well what is a blog for if you cannot discuss your trials and tribulations? What was the point of me beginning this “experimental baking blog/hobby” of mine anyway?

Upon graduating high school my mother made a recipe book for me and my 5 best girlfriends-aka "the beaver clan" (long story); titled the Single Woman’s Survival Guide to Cooking ! Included is a recipe for muffins-great muffins actually. I remember when I was little my mother would make muffins with this recipe, but I would request her to make me a few without the mix -ins (blueberries, walnuts etc.) because the dough/cake was so good by itself.

 This past Tuesday, all of us had to stay late at the office, in order to get a project done.
 I thought, after a late night of working, why not be nice and bake these boys some muffins, for the next morning (my motherly instincts kick in often since I work with all boys/men).
Debating upon what kind of muffins to make was unnecessary since I had this “great muffin” recipe at home..right?
Well I went home and made the muffins as planned following the recipe listed in the survival cookbook:

Ingredients listed:
2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup milk

When the muffins were done I realized they didn’t taste or look  so sweet. How could I have messed up this 6 part recipe? By now it was too late to start over, so the next morning I brought the muffins to work.

Yes, a few of the boys were kind and said they were good, but my reply: yes they are okay, but definitely not my best baking job! My boss couldn’t agree more with me; he tells it how it is and is my number one critic out here in CA.
He said “I’m sorry Marge, but you wouldn’t want me to be like one of those parents that tells their child they have a great voice, then audition for American Idol on national TV and completely suck –right? Ha!

I contacted my mom when I got home, and asked if we could go over this muffin recipe of hers. She listed off the ingredients from her note card, list ingredients- flour, salt, sugar, baking powder, milk, ... 1/3 cup butter. Moooooooom- are you kidding me..butter is not listed anywhere on the recipe you gave us!

Although the butter was left out, the muffins were still safe to eat. Despite my co workers not being too fond of the muffins- all 16 were gone by the end of the day…so I guess one could say this was a successful mishap?
Below is the CORRECT recipe for muffins, which I will have to redo at a later date.
Also please note, the muffins turned blue since I used frozen blueberries, if you use fresh berries your muffins should turn out a bit more attractive! ; )

Actual recipe & ingredients:

2 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg beaten
3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 375. Put paper baking cups in muffin tin. Put dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir together. Beat egg in a little bowl and beat in milk. Add all at once to dry ingredients with Blueberries. Mix together. Batter can be lumpy, although this batter is very resilient and can be mixed more than most muffin batters. Spoon into muffin tin. Bake for 20 minutes.
This muffin can be made in many variations. You could cut up a banana into the batter with some chopped walnuts. Use cranberries, chopped apple, dried figs, dates, raisins, any kind of nut or chocolate chips!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Meyer Lemon Cupcakes

When I am baking somthing for someonefor a special occasion...the first question I ask is: What is so and so's favorite flavor?

Recently it was my boyfriend's mother’s birthday; her favorite flavor is lemon. Therefore we must make lemon cupcakes! You may be wondering why cupcakes, why not cookies, or some sort of pie? Well cupcakes just scream “BIRTHDAY” and can always make one feel young at heart!
I have been itching at the chance to attempt to make cupcakes, and icing from scratch-so here was my opportunity. I also wanted to impress my boyfriends family with my baking skills, so I thought why not add another component-filling! here goes nothing!

Since I do not have one of these I use my little hand held mixer. This usually does not present a problem with the overall outcome of most the sweets I bake, however using a handheld mixer can make beating butter quite difficult. So sometimes I place the butter in a bowl and heat in the microwave for about 20 seconds or so..which usually softens the butter right up! However on this occasion my butter was pretty melted once I removed it from the microwave, and I used it anyway. My cupcakes came out pretty dense due to my butter being over softened to soup consistency, but other than that the end product was extremely edible!
So lesson learned here..Never over softened or over beat butter!

Although I made a few of my own adjustments, this recipe was adapted from Cupcakebakeshop by Chockylit

Strawberry Filling

1 12 ounce bag of Strawberries
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1. Rinse and pick through strawberries. cut/dice up strawberries. removing the leafs
2. Add to a medium pan with water and sugar. Bring to a boil stirring to dissolve sugar.
3. Let the mixture boil for ten minutes.
4. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
5. Store in the refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight.

Lemon Cupcakes

~28 regular cupcakes / 375 degree oven
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup meyer lemon juice
zest of one meyer lemon
1. Beat butter on high until soft, about 30 seconds.
2. Add sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
3. Add eggs one at a time, beat for 30 seconds between each.
4. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.
5. Add about a third of the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and beat to combine. Add about a half of the milk and beat to combine. Continue adding, alternating between dry and wet and finishing with the dry.
6. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest, beat to combine.
7. Scoop into cupcake papers about half full.
8. Place cupcakes in the oven and turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Bake for 22-25 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean.

Once the cupcakes have cooled fill a piping bag with the filling you made earlier. Lightly inject the center of the cupcake, squeeze piping bag, and voila!-filled cupcake!

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

2 sticks (1 cup) butter, room temperature
1-1/2 packages of Philly cream cheese
3-4 cups sifted powdered sugar
1 tablespoon meyer lemon juice
zest of one half meyer lemon
1. Beat butter at medium speed until creamy.

2. Add cream cheese and beat until combined.

3. Sift 3 cups of the powdered sugar into the butter and cream cheese. Add the lemon juice and zest. Beat until combined.
4. Add more sugar until you get to the consistency and sweetness you like. I used 4 cups.
Suggestion: I actually thought this was a bit too much cream cheese. Next time I would gradually add the cream cheese as I add the sugar and stop once I get the consistency I liked. By adding the amount of cream cheese stated- it was really cheesy so I in turn had to add more like 5-6 cups sugar. (but hey who hates sugar?)

Lemon is such a fresh and light summer flavor. Although a cupcake is not as light as say a cup of fruit for a healthy treat on a hot summer day, the lemon taste actually sits quite nicely as a dessert, in the summer heat! Your taste buds will appreciate the zest after a heavy meal!

This cutie loved them:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Green Apple Cake!- It's healthy if the word green is in the name right?

What a better way to start my hobby/experimental baking blog then with a family recipe. This recipe is one of my grandmothers!
This is honestly, one of the most moist and scrumptious cakes I have ever had; and surprisingly is super quick and easy to make too.
Per my mother "greening's" make the best pies and cakes because they are firm, crisp and nicely tart. MacIntosh apples are the next best choice. But do not worry, if your local market does not carry either, just pick a bundle of green apples that look good to you! 
I have baked this numerous times-I not only like to bake it to have as a breakfast cake, but it is a great cake to make as a gift for someone, such as a housewarming gift, or as a festive dessert dish, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream! 

3 cups finely chopped raw apples- about 4-5 medium
(no peeling of apples necessary for this cake!)
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup corn oil
1 tsp vanilla (i use a tablespoon!)
1 cup chopped walnuts
..and my fav secret ingredient as my add in- which I would highly recommend to my dear mom mom if she were here today is-Cinnamon!

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare apples-cut in quarters, core, but do not peel. Chop like you would an onion, or cut in pieces and run briefly in the food processor, or nut chopper if you have one.
They should be fine. but NOT mashed. Set aside.

Mix Dry ingredients together. In a large mixing bowl, beat eggs, add sugar, oil, and vanilla. Mix well. Add dry ingredients until blended. Add cinnamon as you like. I call this my "Julia Child style"  or my "whoopsies" .
Batter will be pretty thick at this point. Fold in apples and walnuts. 
Pour into well greased and floured tube pan. Bake for 45- 60 minutes. Allow to cool in pan.