Sunday, March 16, 2014

Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes


I'm exhausted.   Exhausted and a total emotional hot mess.  Caring for an angry, cray-cray, aging parent just sucks every ounce of energy right out of you.  Sometimes I wish that this would all end....but then realize what I am wishing for and well, that just isn't right either.  Is it?

With so much going on at home I really have no idea how I am functioning at work these days.   I've been coasting and somehow I have thus far escaped the intense scrutiny of my boss man.  That will no doubt change soon.  I can feel change is in the wind.  ugh.

The Bellman, who is always supportive in every way, really deserves a treat.  I haven't baked or blogged anything at all since this parental craziness all went down.  It's been too long.  Seeing that we have a couple of Guinness rolling around in the fridge I thought I'd whip up something involving beer and chocolate (a Bellman fav). Nuthin' says love like chocolate stout cupcakes, ha!

I made these cupcakes a couple of years ago and surprisingly loved them.  The cupcakes don't really taste like beer, they just taste dense, moist and earthy.  You have to try them!  I added the caramel flavored Bailey's to my buttercream on a whim.  It works!!  No tasting and driving though :)

Yield = 24 cupcakes

1C Guinness
1 stick plus 2 TBL butter
3/4C unsweetened cocoa
2C sugar
3/4C sour cream
3 eggs
1 TBL vanilla
2C flour
2 1/2 tsp baking soda

1.  Preheat the over to 350.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

2.  Pour the Guinness into a large wide saucepan, add the butter and heat until the butter is melted.

3.  Whisk in the cocoa and sugar.

3.  In another bowl beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and then pour into buttery, beery pan.

4.  Finally, whisk in the flour and baking soda.

5.  Pour the cake batter into the prepared cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

6.  Leave to cool completely in the pans on a cooling rack.

**adapted from Nigella

Yield = 4 cups

3 egg whites
1C sugar
1 1/4C butter
1/4C caramel flavored Bailey's liquor

1. Find a pan where a bowl will sit on it comfortably without the bowl touching the water in the pan.  Add an inch or so of water to the pan and bring to a simmer. Add your egg whites and sugar to the bowl and whisk until all the sugar has dissolved.  I usually run my finger through it and if there is any grit---keep whisking as it isn't ready yet.  It should feel creamy and smooth. 

2.  When all the sugar has dissolved move the mixture to the mixing bowl.  Using the whisk attachment, whisk until the bowl is cool to the touch.  About 5 minutes.

3.  Add the butter, small chunks at a time and whisk until smooth.  Add the Bailey's.  It's okay to taste test along the way :)

4.  Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.

SlĂ inte and Enjoy!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Cranberry & Eggnog Bread

I am sitting here on this dreary blustery morning drinking coffee, listening to the wind chimes clang and watching Elvis shiver (why he won't wear his sweater I don't's so dang cute!).  It has just dawned on me that winter has arrived and the Holiday Season is certainly upon us.  We've already had our Thanksgiving Feast at work....and finished off the leftovers!  My neighbors have their Christmas lights up and I realize I have a ton of baking requests to prepare for.  All this and Thanksgiving isn't even here yet?!  Time is just whizzing by. 
I am loving all the goodies being offered in the grocery stores this time of year.  Apple cider and caramel apples, eggnog and fresh cranberries.  I've been indulging in each, trust me.  Did you know that eggnog makes an awesome coffee creamer?  YUM!
So, I'm making use of those fresh cranberries with this moist, tasty holiday cranberry eggnog bread.  Don't be afraid of eggnog.   These days it's really just dairy with nutmeg and vanilla.....and sometimes a little rum :) 
YIELD:  one loaf
1C sugar
1 box instant vanilla pudding (3.4 oz)
1/2C butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp rum extract
1 1/2C eggnog
2 1/4C  flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg, freshly grated
1C chopped fresh cranberries
EGGNOG GLAZE (optional)
1/2C confectioner's sugar
2 TBL eggnog
1.  Grease a loaf pan and line with parchment paper. I like to leave an overhang of paper to help remove the loaf after it bakes.
2.  Cream the sugar, pudding mix and butter together.
3.  Add eggs, vanilla extract and rum extract.
4.  Add eggnog.
5.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg.  Add the flour mixture to the wet mixture until just combined.  Be sure not to over mix as it will make the bread tough.
6.  Fold in the cranberries.
7.  Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake at 350 for 60-70 minutes.
8.  Let the loaf cool 20 minutes or so before unmolding then move to a wire rack to continue to cool. A little trick----when the loaf is still just a bit warm to the touch wrap it up in tin foil.  This will "steam" the bread and make the outside soft.  This trick works great for banana bread, too.
9.  Optional Glaze:  whisk eggnog and confectioner's sugar together and pour over bread.  Honestly, this bread is so incredibly moist you really don't need the glaze.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Cow Pie Cookies

Hi Ho Hi Ho back to work I go.  Yep, after a lovely long week of vacation fun with The Bellman, I have returned to a full inbox and a stack of partially handled requests. It was a fantastic week filled with all of our favorite things --eating, shopping and exploring. A week didn't seem to be enough (does it ever??) and we are already planning our next adventure.

Let's talk about these Cow Pie Cookies.  These really are just chocolate, chocolate chippers and are affectionately known around the office as cow pies.  They taste much better than they look, trust me!

Fudgy and dense with crispy edges and a chewy center.  The chocolate lovers loooove them.  As a self confessed dough eater I have to admit to eating more than my share right from the bowl, too. One of my favs!  The key is to mix up the chocolate. Some semi sweet and some 60% chocolate works for me.  

I made a second batch of dough today just to play around with flavors.  I'm calling this creation Black Forest cookies. I substituted 1C semi sweet chips, 1C white chocolate chips and 1C dried cherries for the 3 cups of chocolate chips.  Very tasty!  The Bellman gave them two thumbs up :)


2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp salt 
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1C sugar
1C brown sugar
2 eggs
1TBL vanilla
1/2C cocoa powder (unsweetened)
3C chocolate chips (I like to mix it up and usually use 2C semi-sweet and 1C 60% Ghirardelli chocolate chips)
1.  In a medium bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda.
2.  In mixing bowl cream together butter and both sugars.  Add eggs one at a time. 
3.  Add in vanilla and cocoa powder. 
4.  Add flour mixture and mix until just combined.
5.  Fold in chocolate chips.
6.  Bake at 375 for 11 minutes.
7.  Let cool on baking rack for 2 minutes before moving to cooling rack.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Pumpkin Bundt Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

Does anyone else celebrate Sweetest Day?  I don't remember when this holiday started and honestly I just did a little Wikipedia search for more info:  

Sweetest Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the Great Lakes region on the third Saturday in October. It is described as an "occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed."   

Okay, nice sentiment, right?!  Of course The Bellman, ever the romantic, looooves this kind of thing!  He was certainly thinking ahead this year and what a lovely surprise it was when he presented me with this beautiful bundt pan.  Sweet!  I gave him a card and an apple, meh.

I've been playing around with pumpkin and browned butter glazes.  Even though I hated covering up the beautiful design of this bundt I thought it did indeed need a drizzle of something. 

Yield = one bundt cake

2C sugar
4 eggs
1C canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2C flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp salt
15 oz pumpkin (one can)

1.  Beat the sugar and eggs until well blended.  Add the oil and vanilla.

2.  In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt.

3.  Add flour mixture to egg mixture and stir to combine.

4.  Add pumpkin and mix well.

5.  Pour into greased and floured bundt pan.

6.  Bake at 350 for 50-55 minutes.

7.  Let the cake cool 10 minutes before removing from bundt pan.

Yield = 1C

1/4C butter
1 1/4 C powdered sugar
3 TBL milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp vanilla paste

1.  In a medium bowl add the powdered sugar, vanilla and milk.

2.  Brown the butter and add to the powdered sugar mixture. Whisk together until well blended.  Add more milk if needed to reach a pourable consistency.

I followed the same rules to brown the butter here as I did with the brown butter snickerdoodles from a couple of weeks ago.  It's pretty simple, trust me.

Place the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  The butter will foam and sputter and that is okay.  Just keep whisking through this process.  After a few minutes the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the pan.  Continue to whisk and remove the butter from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown.  You'll know it is ready when it starts to smell nutty.  Kind of like those yummy cinnamon almonds sold at the mall. Be careful because it can go from zero to dark thirty in a flash. 

3.  Spoon the warm glaze over the cooled cake.


*adapted from "Like The Bowl Good".

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream

Whew, it is hot here in Florida this week.  We are getting that last summer blast before things cool down for fall.  I'm still on the pumpkin bandwagon but baking has been out of the question since it's been just too hot to have the oven turned on.  Menchies, my favorite frozen treat,  just introduced a pumpkin frozen yogurt.  Of course I was first in line this week to check it out.  It's very tasty and it reminded me that I have an ice cream maker stashed away somewhere.
Ah, pumpkin ice cream--I've been dreaming of you!  The spinner thing has been in the freezer all week ready to go.  This is my not so low fat version of frozen pumpkin pie.  Complete with crumbled ginger snaps and a drizzle of drunken caramel sauce.  YUM!
Okay, before we go any further I will admit that I totally took a short cut with the gingersnaps.  I normally avoid purchased refrigerated cookie dough with one exception:  The Immaculate Baking Co Ginger Cookie Dough.  I find it in the dairy/yogurt/butter section, on the bottom rack under the fancy big name cookie dough makers.  It's organic and pretty much as close to homemade tasting as you can get.  The Ginger Cookie is very spicy.  Just how I make them (eh, when it's not so hot that is!). 

Yield: 6 cups
1/2 C brown sugar
1/2 C corn syrup, light
5 egg yolks
1 TBL corn starch
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ginger
1C half and half
1 15oz can of pumpkin
1C heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1.  Whisk together brown sugar, egg yolks and corn syrup. Then beat in cornstarch, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Set aside.
2.  Bring half and half to a simmer.  Slowly temper the half and half into the egg and sugar mixture.
3.  Return entire mixture to pan and whisk constantly over low heat until custard thickens slightly.
4.  Remove from heat and beat in canned pumpkin.
5.  Strain into a clean bowl and let the custard cool slightly.
6.  Add heavy cream and vanilla.
7.  Cover and refrigerate until cold.
8.  Freeze in your ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions.  When finished fold in crushed ginger snaps (I used about 1 cup) and caramel sauce.
9.  Freeze at least two hours.
Yield = 1 1/2 Cups
4 1/2oz sugar
2 TBL water
3oz corn syrup
1C heavy cream
2 TBL RumChata
1.   In saucepan combine sugar and water.  Adjust the amount of water if needed so the mixture resembles wet sand. The more water you add the longer it will have to cook so go easy.....unless you have that kind of time.

2.  Add corn syrup.

3.  Stir once and only once, then boil to 320F (or desired color).  I don't usually bother with a thermometer but opt instead to judge the doneness by the color.  Be sure to watch closely as this can go from a wonderful amber color to burned brown in seconds.

4.  Add cream, carefully. If you get a hard candy like clump in the middle of your caramel don't worry.  Just move the pan to low heat and stir until it dissolves. When smooth, add the RumChata.

5.  Cool and store in refrigerator.



Sunday, September 22, 2013

Brown Butter Snickerdoodle Cookies

I imagine the reason I started baking snickerdoodles as a kid was because the house was totally void of chocolate and /or peanut butter.  Snickerdoodles are pretty much crunchy sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon and sugar.  They do have one unusual ingredient and that is cream of tarter.  I have no idea why my not-so-domestic Goddess mother would have cream of tarter in the pantry....but she did. Strange.

If you have never played around with browned butter, you need to start.  It's oh so tasty!  The first time I experienced it was at Cat Cora's Kouzzina in Orlando.  Think Brussels sprouts caramelized in browned butter then splashed with fresh lemon and topped with melty Parmesan.  Heaven!  Yep, I'm pretty sure my ten year old self never ever dreamed I'd say that about Brussels sprouts.  Ever.

I am in love with these cookies.  The brown butter makes a HUGE difference in taste.  I've always heard it described as tasting nutty.  I'm not really sure if that is how it tasted to me.  I find that it is just really fragrant and rich.  It's worth the effort, trust me.

Yield = 18 large cookies

2 1/2C flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tarter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1C butter
1 1/4C brown sugar, dark
1/2C sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1tsp vanilla
1tbl sour cream

1/4C sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

1.  Whisk together flour, baking soda, cream of tarter, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and salt.

2.  Brown the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  The butter will foam and sputter and that is okay.  Just keep whisking through this process.  After a few minutes the butter will begin to brown on the bottom of the pan.  Continue to whisk and remove the butter from heat as soon as the butter begins to brown.  You'll know it is ready when it starts to smell nutty.  Kind of like those yummy cinnamon almonds they sell at the mall. Be careful because it can go from zero to dark thirty in a flash.  When you get to the right color take the butter off the heat, move it to another container and set aside to cool a bit.

3.  Using a mixer, combine the butter and sugars.  Beat in egg and yolk, vanilla and sour cream.

4.  Add dry ingredients until just combined.

5.  Chill the dough for about 2 hours.

6.  Form dough into balls and roll into sugar and cinnamon mixture.

7.  Bake at 350 for about 14 minutes.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cookies

Okay, so it is 93 degrees and humid as all get out here in Florida and yet somehow it still feels like fall.  I love this time of year!  The stores are already full of fall merchandise and it has me in full pumpkin mode.  I even have the pumpkin spice plug ins in place in the house already!  Look at these awesome pumpkin spice M&Ms I found at Target.  The cashier said they can't keep them in stock.  Guess I'm not the only one on the pumpkin band wagon.

I saw these and immediately thought they needed to be in a cookie.  So, basically I tossed them into my "perfect chocolate chip cookie" batter, added some espresso and pumpkin pie spice and voila!  pumpkin spice latte cookies.  Very yum and spicy and Fall!  BTW, these cookies are really tasty dunked in a cup of coffee.  But then aren't they all?
Yield = 24
3/4C butter
1/4C shortening
3/4C brown sugar
3/4C sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
2 1/4 C flour
2tbl cornstarch
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
2tsp vanilla
1tbl espresso powder
2tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2C pumpkin spice M&Ms
1C chocolate chips, semi sweet
1/2C chocolate chips, 60% (bitter sweet--I use Ghirardelli)
1.  In a separate bowl combine flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt, espresso powder and pumpkin pie spice.

2.  In mixer bowl, cream together butter, shortening and sugars.

3.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Be sure to scrape down the bowl occasionally.

4.  Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

5.  Fold in the M&Ms and chocolate chips.

6.  Scoop dough into large golf ball sized balls.  I use a medium sized ice cream scoop for uniformity.

7.  Place the dough balls in the refrigerator to chill for at least one hour.  Sometimes I freeze half the batch for a later use.

8.  Place the dough balls on a lined or greased baking sheet and bake at 375 for 11-13 minutes.

9.  After two minutes carefully move the cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.