Archive for November, 2010

November 19, 2010

Birthday Girl Red Velvet Cupcakes

You should come over to my house.  You should sit on my couch. You should look down at the coffee table and start drooling. Because that’s basically what we do over here. Why? I own some pretty sweet cook books completely devoted to cupcakes. There is something about a stack of books filled with nothing but tiny delicious personal-sized cakes that just gets those salivary glands working.

Needless to say, if became a weekly habit for my housemates to peruse these books, neglecting their French homework and business projects in order to choose the cupcake I should bake that week. About a month ago, Elaine came to my door and peeked her head in. She declared that she had chosen what I would be baking for her birthday. Red Velvet cupcakes. My little ears perked up, because I have never made them before, and we all know I love a good adventure in the kitchen!

So November 12th found me in the kitchen at 8am, elbow deep in red food coloring, trying to create the perfect Red Velvet cupcake. Just a few hours later, after I had finished scrubbing the last of said food coloring off the counter and picking up all the sprinkles off the floor, I had these little treats ready to go!

Interesting Fact: Red Velvet Cupcakes traditionally got their color not from food coloring, but from the reaction of acidic vinegar and buttermilk with the red anthocyanin in the cocoa. The “Dutch Processed” cocoa we use today is more alkaline, so that red color isn’t quite as prominent. There are endless variations of Red Velvet cake, with varying amounts of food coloring, cocoa, buttermilk, and/or vinegar. It all depends on if you are going for a sexy-valentines-day-don’t-you-want-me sultry deep red or a HAPPY-BIRTHDAY-ELAINE-BURNS bright and cheerful red.

Okay. Science lesson over. (Thanks Wikipedia!) Let’s all sing a round of Happy Birthday and wait for the birthday girl to take the first bite!

Birthday Girl Red Velvet Cupcakes
adapted from www.joythebaker.com

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbs unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 Tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1  teaspoon vanilla extract
  • scant 1 cup milk
  • 1 Tablespoon red food coloring (I like to use no-taste gel food coloring)
  • 8 oz cream cheese (room temp)
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 4 cups powdered Sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Put a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners and set aside.

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minute in between each addition.  Beat in vanilla.  On low speed, add flour mixture alternately with the milk and red dye in 3 batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until just incorporated.

Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes, or until the cakes a pick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean.  Let cool for 10 minutes then remove cupcakes from muffin tin and let cool on a wire rack.

To make the frosting, beat the cream cheese in a bowl until it become fluffy. Beat in butter until combined, and then add vanilla. Beat in powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. Decorate cupcakes when cool!

Check this article out in SkidNews!

November 14, 2010

I <3 You Scones

Dear readers,

I love you. I do. I’m pretty sure you exist now, compared to a year ago when only my mom read my posts. I love hearing feedback from people who have read my blog. I mean, I get to look at all these treats right in my kitchen, so the whole point of doing this is to share with you!

So I baked you these heart scones. Why? Because I love you. And because I want to meet you. I want to know you are real! I want to give you everything you ever wanted. Do you wish I made only vegan desserts? Would you like to see me make a three-tier cake made out of doughnuts? Leave a comment and tell me what you want! This is all about you, baby.

Hey, if I don’t hear back from you, I won’t be too sad. Like I said, my mom thinks I’m GREAT!

Love,

Me

I ❤ You Scones
Adapted from Pinch My Salt

2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1/3 cup milk chocolate chips, chopped up a bit
heavy cream (optional, for brushing tops of scones)

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk or sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt.  Add butter chunks and toss lightly with flour; place bowl in fridge.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg, buttermilk, and lemon zest; place bowl in fridge.
4. Get organized:  measure out and chop the cranberries; set aside. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat; set aside. Lightly dust a counter top with flour.  Pour a little bit of heavy cream in a bowl and have a pastry brush handy.
5. Remove bowls of flour and buttermilk from fridge.  Cut butter into flour with a pastry blender or rub together with your fingertips until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add cranberries and stir to combine.
6. Add buttermilk mixture all at once to flour mixture and stir until the mixture clumps together. Dump mixture out onto floured counter top and, with floured hands, gather into a ball and knead once or twice to combine everything.  Pat into a circle about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into 8 slices, like a pie, or cut with biscuit or cookie cutters into whatever shape you prefer.  Put scones on lined baking sheet and brush lightly with heavy cream (optional).
7. Bake in a preheated 425 degree oven for 13-15 minutes until lightly browned.  Remove to cooling rack.

November 12, 2010

So you had a bad day…

I grew up in a family that strongly believes in the power of comfort food.  You know that old saying, “Feed a fever, starve a cold?” In my house, it was: “Feed a fever, feed a cold, feed, feed, feed.” My dad used to give me chocolate bars when I had strep throat.

Well, without getting too scientific here, I really do think that your heart and your stomach are linked in an important way. I’m not saying we should start eating our feelings all the time, but sometimes a girl just needs some chocolate-induced relief!

The great thing about food? It can fit any situation. Just aced your mid-term? Treat yourself to a nice frosty soft-serve twist in d-hall. Just found out that boy you kissed at Moorebid was actually the scum of the earth? Grab a pint of Cookie Dough ice cream and eat it with a spoon on the couch while watching reruns of The OC with your BFFs.  Now that I think of it, ice cream is a particularly versatile dessert.

This all goes to say that it’s been a rough few weeks here in my house. So much so that it became apparent that some serious edible therapy was in order. So I sat down with the housemates to devise the ultimate cure-all dessert.

First we needed a name. We listed all the things that had been going wrong in our lives, eventually decided upon the acronym S.C.H.I.B.A.D. This is a food column, not Dear Abby, so I’m not going to give you the dish on what these things stand for. Let’s just say you can take your pick of letters and turn it into whatever is raining on your parade these days.

Then we needed ingredients. Chocolate was a no brainer. Cake seemed appropriately decadent for soaking up a miserable week. Okay, a chocolate layer cake. With creamy peanut butter frosting. Topped with Reeses, and M&Ms, and white chocolate chips sandwiched between the two layers…. Betsy tried to even get some no-bake cookies on top, but they didn’t make the cut.

But what did make the cut was the best chocolate cake recipe I’ve ever had. Super moist and perfectly dense and oh-so-chocolatey… And better each following day – as if it was continually absorbing all the S.C.H.I.B.A.D. feelings in our house and transforming them into chocolate peanut buttery goodness.

The bad news is that this cake didn’t make our problems go away. The good news is that it did the best it could to warm our hearts and fill our bellies. It’s just dessert, after all.

S.C.H.I.B.A.D Cake

Chocolate Cake:

Adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa at Home
1 3/4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup freshly brewed coffee or hot water

Peanut Butter Frosting:
1/2 cup butter

1 cup creamy peanut butter

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1/3 cup cream

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 and grease and flour two 9-inch cake pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until combined. Add the coffee/water and stir just to combine. Pour batter into pans and bake for about 40 minutes. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

To make the frosting, cream the butter and peanut butter in a bowl. Slowly beat in confectioners’ sugar. Add cream until frosting reaches spreadable consistency.

Frost cake and add any and all toppings you desire. Eat a fat slice with a big glass of milk in your pjs. 100% guaranteed to make your day just a little better.

P.S. Check this article out in today’s SkidNews!

November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Muffins

I’m going to make this short and sweet. Kind of like these muffins, because I only made a half batch but they were soooo delicious.

Thursday night, need to bake, half some left over pumpkin, voila! Pumpkin muffins! I’m not usually a huge lover of pumpkin things, more like a casual enjoyer. But these were so good and incredibly dense and moist. If I made them again I might cut down the sugar just a bit, because I don’t think it needed quite that much. But A + for these guys.

That’s all! I do have to go to class sometimes, I can’t always just sit here and wax eloquent about cookies and muffins and whatnot.

Bye!

Pumpkin Muffins
adapted from Picky Cook

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice (I didn’t have this, so I just combined some nutmeg, all-spice, and a little extra cinnamon)
2 teaspoon cinnamon – divided
pinch nutmeg
1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350°F. Put liners in muffin cups.
Whisk together pumpkin, oil, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, nutmeg, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 1/4 cups sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour mixture until just combined.

Stir together 1 teaspoon cinnamon and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in another bowl. Divide batter among muffin cups (each should be about three-fourths full), then sprinkle tops with cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake until puffed and golden brown and wooden pick or skewer inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack five minutes, then transfer muffins from pan to rack and cool to warm or room temperature.

November 5, 2010

Blueberry Waffles

Are you allowed to get homesick when you are a 21-year-old senior in college?

Because these waffles really make me miss my dad.


I would give anything to be seven years old again, watching Tom & Jerry in my pjs on a cold Saturday morning in the fall, while my tall, lanky dad, still in his bathrobe and armed with a whisk, cooked up stacks of steaming waffles.

He used the same pancake and waffle mix throughout my entire childhood – from a local place called New Hope Mills. We always used to argue over syrup: I wanted the sticky sweet fake-o Log Cabin stuff, and he insisted on, you know, high-quality real syrup from upstate New York. Let’s just say breakfast was always a big hit at the Lane house sleepovers.

Unfortunately, my dad didn’t make me these waffles, although it was a cold October Saturday morning and I did watch cartoons. I made them from scratch, which I had never done before. Don’t let the whipped egg whites scare you away. The easiest way to separate an egg is to gently crack it in half and transfer the yolk back and forth, letting the white part siphon off into a bowl. Then use an electric hand mixer to whip those eggs whites until they become stiff and fluffy. It’s totally worth it!

I did use some frozen blueberries that my dad gave me at the end of the summer, which were a pain to clean out of the waffle maker (Oops, I don’t think I ever did finish that… sorry housemates).

I have to say though, these were some seriously good waffles – fluffy and light. I hate dry waffles, and these were moist and perfectly sweet. If I could make one change, I would have used buttermilk instead of regular milk, but I didn’t have any on hand. Although I don’t think buttermilk changes the consistency too much, it gives them a nice tangy taste that would have been great with the berries

Oh, and I think my dad would be proud: I bought some local REAL maple syrup from the Saratoga Farmer’s Market and heated it up in a glass measuring cup just like he always did. Thanks for teaching me how to do breakfast right!


Blueberry Waffles
Adapted from Average Betty

Makes 10-12 waffles

Ingredients:
1 3/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups milk
2 beaten egg yolks
1/2 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 egg whites whipped till stiff
1.5 – 2 cups blue berries, rinsed

Directions:
Set waffle iron to heat. Mix together flower, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Add in milk, egg yolks, oil, and vanilla and stir until just combined. Batter will be lumpy – don’t over mix. Stir in blueberries gently. Fold in whipped egg whites until incorporated (batter will still be very lumpy).

Cook in waffle iron according to maker’s instructions. Enjoy with maple syrup (I’ll let you choose what kind) and enjoy on a Saturday morning with people you love!

Printed in SkidNews on 11/5/2010