Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

It's 4 am here in sunny California. My dear, sweet, chubby-legged princess decided that sleeping through the night was over-rated and that it would be a perfect time to have a nice chat with mom. I shouldn't complain too much. She is only 16 weeks old and has slept 12+ hours in a row for the last week and a half, so I'm actually feeling somewhat human with all that sleep. Not that I don't want her to call this morning a fluke and go back to her 12 hours.

So, once I was up, I was up. What are you going to do at 4 am? Sleep, some may say, but alas, it isn't in the cards for me. I'm a light sleeper and when I get up for extended amounts of time (like the amount of time it takes for a drowsy 16 week old to finish a bottle) then it's next to impossible to get back to sleep. So why not blog?

I made these last week (after having made them forever ago) and remembered how much I loved them. Not too minty but minty enough and just overall yummy. This time, for reasons that escape my 4 am-brain, I didn't use the frosting and simply drizzled some left over re-warmed ganache on the top. Perfect!

Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3 sticks butter
2 1/4 cups sugar
8 eggs
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
Pinch of salt

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 tablespoon butter, room temperature

Mint Buttercream Frosting
2 sticks butter
4-5 cups sifted powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract

For cupcake
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with 24 cupcake liners
  • Melt chocolate and butter in double boiler. Add sugar and let cool slightly. Beat on medium for 3 minutes.
  • Add eggs one at a time.
  • Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Add to chocolate mixture and mix to combine.
  • Scoop into liners 1/2-3/4 full. Bake 22-25 minutes.
For ganache
  • Chop chocolate and place in a bowl.
  • Heat cream until bubbles form. Pour over chocolate and let sit 30 seconds. Stir to combine. Add extract and butter. Let cool about an hour or until almost set.
For frosting
  • Beat butter until creamy
  • Add 4 cups of sugar, milk, and extract. Beat until combined. Add more sugar if necessary.
To assemble:
  • Use an apple corer to scoop out the centers of the cooled cupcakes. Keep the tops but cut off a majority of the cone.
  • Fill hole with ganache. I use a squeeze bottle and it works perfectly. Top with what's left of your scooped out cone.
  • Top with frosting or drizzle with left-over ganache.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

(Ruined) Red Velvet Cupcakes

So I ruined a batch of perfectly good mini red velvet cupcakes. It happens to everyone, right? At least that's what I'm going to tell myself. I used a recipe I've made at least 137 times before with great results so I'm assuming I left something out along the way. They tasted perfect but were ugly and spread out and refused to budge from their pan. The pan issue was something entirely different and a result of forgetting to spray it before I put the batter in. Non-stick my rear end. Anywho, this is what I pulled out of the oven:

Now, I'm not going to throw away a perfectly tasty batch of cupcakes. Presentation counts for a lot, so I won't share them outside of the house, but it's a rare husband and toddler that will walk by ANY cupcake, ugly or not. So Colin happily munched on cupcake tops that could be pried away from the pan and Dave finished off the remains after work.

For the few that were left after all that I made parfaits (more or less). I broke up the sad little cupcakes, drizzled melted dark chocolate, topped with cream cheese icing, and viola! Much prettier and almost intentional looking!

The cupcake and icing recipes are here. I promise, the cupcakes really do normally turn out fantastic. And the icing is cream cheese perfection. But on the off chance that you leave out an ingredient and forget to spray your pan, then parfait away!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Blueberry Scones

I love scones, but only really good ones. It seems like there are so many that are dry and crumbly, they're just not worth all the calories. I've honestly never made them before these. No good reason, really. I just never got around to it. But I found this recipe and figured I'd give it a shot and it's PERFECT. I didn't make a single change and don't think I ever will, it's that good.

So, give it a shot. They're wonderful! I've since swapped out the blueberries with blackberries and raspberries and both we fantastic as well.

Blueberry Scones

10 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen whole
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries (or any other berry)
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest
Turbanado sugar for topping

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Grate 8 tablespoons of butter and place in freezer. Place blueberries in freezer while working. Set aside remaining 2 tablespoons butter.
  • Whisk together milk and sour cream. Refrigerate.
  • Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, salt, and zest. Add frozen butter and toss until coated.
  • Add milk mixture and fold together until just combined. Transfer to a liberally floured surface and kneed 6-8 times, until it just barely holds together in a ball.
  • Roll into a 12 inch square. Fold into thirds (like a letter) then fold short ends into thirds to create a 4 inch square. Transfer to a flour dusted plate and freeze 5 minutes.
  • Re-roll into a 12 inch square. Sprinkle and press berries evenly over surface. Roll into a tight log and lay seam-side down. Press into a 12/4 inch rectangle (it's going to be pretty fat at this point. I just use my hands to even everything out but it is by no means flat). Cut into 4 equal rectangles, then cut each rectangle diagonally. Transfer to a parchment lined sheet.
  • Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and brush on tops then sprinkle with turbanado sugar.
  • Bake 18-22 minutes (mine are perfect at 18).

And here are is the inside. Perfect!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Crunchy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake

Let's jump right in, shall we?

This is rich. And by rich, I mean RICH rich. And oh-so-tasty! I adore chocolate and peanut butter together, so this fits the bill. But the best part is the little crunchy bits in the middle layer. Chocolate, peanut butter, and crunchy. How could it be bad?

This is a pretty time intensive cake, and is a bit pricey with all the ingredients, but definitely worth it for a special occasion.

Crunchy Milk Chocolate and Peanut Butter Cake


2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 large eggs

1 cup milk

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water


1/3 cup sliced almonds

1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

2 large egg whites

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 cup salted roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

3 ounces milk chocolate, chopped

1 cup Rice Krispies


1 1/4 pounds milk chocolate, chopped

1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, warmed

For Cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Butter and flour a 9-by-13-inch cake pan.
  • In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla. Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Whisk in the boiling water.
  • Pour the batter (it will be thin) into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool.
  • Invert the cake onto a work surface. Working carefully, slice the cake horizontally. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°.

For Filling

  • Trace a 9-by-13-inch rectangle onto a sheet of parchment paper and lay it on a large baking sheet.
  • In a food processor, pulse the almonds with the confectioners’ sugar until they’re finely ground.
  • In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites at medium speed until soft peaks form. Add the granulated sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy, about 2 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the almond mixture.
  • Spread the meringue on the parchment to fill the rectangle. Sprinkle the chopped peanuts on top. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and firm. Let cool.
  • In a medium bowl set in a saucepan of simmering water, heat the peanut butter with the butter and milk chocolate, stirring constantly, until smooth and melted. Remove from the heat and fold in the Rice Krispies. Spread the mixture all over the meringue rectangle. Transfer to the freezer and let cool completely.
For Ganache
  • In a medium bowl set in a saucepan of simmering water, melt the chocolate. Whisk in the cream until smooth. Remove from the heat and refrigerate for 1 hour, whisking occasionally, until thick enough to spread.
  • Place the bottom cake layer cut side up on a large board. Spread one-third of the ganache over the cake. Invert the filling onto the cake and peel off the paper. Spread half of the remaining ganache over the filling, then top with the second cake layer. Refrigerate until firm, at least 1 hour. Using a serrated knife, trim the edges. Spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake and refrigerate to set. Cut and serve.

Taken from Food and Wine, November 2007

Ok, I'm back

Wow, it's been awhile, huh? I hope I still have one or two people reading this. If so, say hi so I know you're there!

Let's see, where to start? Well, I had a baby. That's pretty much it. I found out I was pregnant in April (right around that last post) and instantly fell into "morning" sickness. Those of you that are "lucky" enough to experience this particular joy of pregnancy, you know why morning is in quotes. If you are one of those people that doesn't know what I'm talking about, count your blessings and NEVER, EVER, EVER tell a woman who is going through it "Oh, I just felt a little queazy every once in a while". It doesn't help and it makes us want to stomp you.

Well, wouldn't you know it, I had an especially nasty stretch of about 6 months of it. Fun times. So, needless to say, the baking went on hold for a bit.

And then came Miss Quinn! All 9 pounds 10 oz of her!! She's now 12 weeks old and is doing wonderfully. She's a truly happy baby, good eater, and pretty decent sleeper. We're into a routine of sorts, which gives me a little bit of time to bake again.

So, that's it. Here we go...