Saturday, October 23, 2010

School Spirit Cupcakes

My cousins are seniors on their varsity soccer team and each year the younger girls do something for the seniors as sort of a senior appreciation at their last home game. This year, the last home game actually got cancelled and they rescheduled a scrimmage in it's place. But because it wasn't a real game, the girls didn't plan anything for them! So to perk up some school spirit and help the girls stay up beat I made mini cupcakes and brought the cookies from this week's Christmas cookie project.

They are the Highland Huskies and the colors are blue and yellow. I made chocolate and vanilla mini cupcakes with chocolate and vanilla buttercream. I dyed the vanilla cupcakes blue and the vanilla buttercream yellow. They were very festive and delicious. I'm sharing the cake recipes today, stay tuned to tomorrow for the buttercream recipe!

Dark Chocolate Cake
Makes 3 dozen mini cupcakes

1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line mini cupcake pan with pan liners.
In the bowl of a stand mixer mix together sugar, four, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix on low (careful - it can poof out!) until well blended.
Add in egg, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla extract then mix them into the batter. Once well combined add in the hot water.
Batter is very liquidy, I put it into a liquid measuring cup to pour into cupcake pan.
Bake 11-13 minutes until baked throughly

Best Vanilla Cupcake
Adapted from Smitten Kitten
Makes 3 dozen mini cupcakes

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 extra large eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream together the butter and sugar in a stand mixer. Mix together vanilla extract and eggs and add into butter mixture. Once very light and fluffy add in baking power, baking soda, and salt. Mix in flour, alternating with buttermilk. This is when I added in the blue coloring.
Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the pan half way through.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Chewy Caramel Chocolate Cookies!

It is week 2 of 10 in my Christmas cookie adventure. This week has been a very busy one for baking! I posted a picture of my Biscotti to my facebook page last week and my Aunt Tink left a comment on it telling me how delicious they were, and how she hoped that they were fat free because she had been eating the package of them that I gave her all day. My Aunt Barb responded to that asking where she could find some of these "fat free Biscotti!" I then remade the Biscotti on Monday and sent some out to her and the rest of my family that lives in Colorado. Hopefully they traveled well and she is enjoying the treat.

This week's cookie was inspired by a cookie that I saw while surfing around the Internet. The cookie called for a chocolate dough wrapped around a Rolo. They reminded me of these brownie bites that my Aunt Cindy makes. She makes her favorite brownie batter and bakes it up in mini muffin pans and then immediately out of the oven she presses in either Rolos or Reese's peanut butter cups. They are delicious and all of my cousins love them.

I ran with the concept and I made my own caramels this week (see the previous post! They were amazing!) I made a chocolate cookie dough and wrapped the caramel in it, they were really delicious!

Chocolate Cookies with Chewy Caramel Centers (That is a very alliterative cookie name!!)
Adapted from: Two Peas and Their Pod - I love this blog!

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups flour
Caramels (home made preferably!)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Cream together butter and both types of sugar in a stand mixer. Once it is light and fluffy add in the eggs one at a time. Then mix in the vanilla extract. Add in cocoa powder, baking soda and salt, mix until well combined. Mix in the flour and mix until smooth-ish. Some lumps are ok, they will bake out.

Take a tablespoon or so of dough and wrap it around the caramel. Place it on a cookie sheet (I lined mine with silicone mats - it helped when some of the caramel oozed out!)  Bake for 11-13 minutes.

**Let cool completely before eating - while they are still warm the caramel is kind of dissolved into the dough, but once cooled there is a chewy caramel consistency in the center. Delicious!!**

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Salted Chewy Caramels

In order to prepare to make this week's cookie, I made salted caramel. I actually had to make it twice because my first batch wasn't soft and chewy, it was hard as a rock. Although still very delicious, it wouldn't work for my cookie recipe, so I tried again, this time with a different recipe.
These turned out beautifully and even more delicious than the first recipe. Yum!

Salted Chewy Caramels

5 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water

Line a 9x9 baking pan with foil and spray foil with vegetable oil spray.

In a small sauce pan melt the butter, once melted add in the heavy cream, vanilla, and salt. Bring to a slow boil stirring frequently. Remove from heat.

In a 4 quart sauce pan with high sides mix together sugar, corn syrup and water. Boil without stirring (a gentle swirl of the pan occasionally is helpful to avoid hot spots) until a light golden color, approximately 310 degrees. On my gas stove this takes about 10 minutes.

Add in the heavy cream mixture. BE CAREFUL! It will boil up violently!!! Return to heat and stir frequently until mixture reaches 248 degrees, it took about 8 minutes on my stove. Pour into the lined baking pan and let cool.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

10 Weeks of Christmas cookies!

I decided to jump on a bandwagon I saw while surfing the web yesterday...Some bloggers I saw are doing 12 weeks of Christmas cookies to test out different recipes. I loved the idea so I jumped right on. Since I go to Connecticut on Fridays I'm making the cookies to post on Thursdays.

This week I started with my favorite Christmas cookie, biscotti. Yum! This is a tried and true recipe. I use it every Christmas season and all of my family and friends adore it. I think I've been making it for 4 or 5 years at this point.

Traditional Anise-Almond Biscotti
(Adapted from Epicurious)
Makes approximately 30 cookies

1 1/3 cups sugar
10 tablespoons butter, melted
3 extra large eggs
1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons anise extract
3 1/4 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup slivered almonds

1 extra large egg white

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper.
In large mixing bowl combine the sugar, melted butter, eggs, vanilla and anise extract. Mix until a light yellow color.
Add in the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix until just combined.
Add almonds and stir until well distributed.

Separate the dough into two balls. Form each ball of dough into a 13 inch long, 2 inch wide log. Place side by side on the baking sheet leaving space between them, they will spread.
Bake for 30 minutes.
Remove from oven and place baking sheet on a wire rack and allow to cool for approximately 20 minutes. The logs should be cool to the touch. Slice each log using a serrated knife. I get approximately 15 slices per log.
Arrange cookies on the baking sheet and return to oven for 12-15 minutes until lightly golden brown. Turn the cookies over and bake for 8 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool completely.
Keep in a air tight container.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Chicken wings are a favorite in my crowd, but they're terrible for you! Dark meat, deep fried dipped in a butter filled sauce! Oh my! Delicious, but not realistic for a regular meal. But with a few changes, you can have a similar flavor outcome, with way fewer calories.

Buffalo Chicken Strips with Blue Cheese Salad
(adapted from Martha Stewart)

Buffalo Chicken:
1 tablespoon butter
3 tablespoons ketchup
1/4 cup hot sauce (I used franks red hot wing sauce because it was in the fridge!)
1 cup flour
1 large egg
3 chicken breasts cut into 3 strips each
vegetable oil

In a small frying pan mix together butter, ketchup and hot sauce, heat and mix thoroughly.

Heat enough oil to coat the bottom of a large pan. Put flour in a bowl and fluff with fork. In another bowl beat the egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Coat chicken in flour, tapping off extra before coating in egg and dredging in flour again. Fry until internal temperature hits 160 degrees. Toss cooked chicken in the heated sauce and set aside.

Blue Cheese Salad:
3 tablespoons sour cream
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon water
pinch of course salt
1/4 cup blue cheese
romaine lettuce
2 carrots thinly sliced
2 celery stalks chunked

Mix together sour cream, mayo, lemon juice, water, salt and blue cheese until well combined.
Place lettuce, carrots and celery in a bowl.

Top salad with chicken and dressing.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Breakfast foods

I love making breakfast for people. It is by far my favorite meal to make. Unfortunately breakfast comes VERY early. So that leads me to enjoy brunch. The funny part about though is that I actually don't like very many breakfast foods. One that I do really love is yogurt and granola. I love strawberry or peach yogurt with granola mixed in. Yum!

I did a brunch for my sister's engagement party in November. One of the foods we had was yogurt with fresh fruit and granola. So delicious.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Super Bowl Cake

It has been far too long since I have updated my blog. Life gets crazy around the holidays! I know it is a lousy excuse, but a true one nonetheless.

So onto the cake. I made this cake for a friend of the family, he asked for it to tease a friend of his on Super Bowl Sunday. The friend was certain the Jets were going to make it this year, so when they didn't my friend wanted to rub a little bit of salt in the wound. He asked for a Jets team football. After some extensive googling, this is what I created. I am not a football fan, much less a Jets fan specifically, so I did my best recreating something I am only vaguely familiar with.

Typically I would have covered the whole cake in fondant but they specifically wanted it to be covered in buttercream. I had to add some fondant accents to make the football have the right look. I am pretty happy with how it came out overall. It was dark chocolate cake with peanut butter mousse filling. I heard it was delicious.