Monday, September 16, 2013

Rhubarb Filled Cupcakes

Since I'm going to be making the cupcakes for my sister's wedding, she had a request for me. She wanted me to find and make a rhubarb cupcake. I looked around and found a recipe for a rhubarb curd. I thought that would be awesome if I filled a cupcake with it. So I went ahead and made the curd and was disappointing with how it turned out. The rhubarb flavor didn't shine through at all like I was hoping, so it was back to the drawing bored. I talked to my mom about it and she suggested something that I should have thought of from the get go. She has made a rhubarb dessert since before I can remember that tastes like heaven. We decided to try to adapt that dessert into a cupcake and I don't think we could have done a better job.

I used the white cake from my Cotton Candy Cupcakes because it was so delicious. The frosting is a rhubarb meringue. Just a little bit of sweetness while staying light and fluffy. I don't think this cupcake would work with any other kind of frosting. But the star of the show is definitely the filling. It's a little sweet and still slightly tart from the whole pieces of rhubarb. When you taste all of these together, you'll be wishing you'd made more of them.

Here's how to make it:

Please refer to the Cotton Candy Cupcakes for the recipe for the cake portion.

- 5 1/4 cups rhubarb, diced
- 2 1/2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup half & half
- 4 1/2 Tbsp flour
- 5 large egg yolks (save 2 whites for meringue)
- 2 - 4 drops of red food coloring

- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 egg whites
- 1 stalk rhubarb, chopped
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- pinch salt
- Red food coloring.

1. Make the cupcakes as directed here.
2. For the filling, in large sauce pan, combine all of the filling ingredients. Mix well.
3. Bring to a low boil over medium heat stirring frequently.
4. Boil the mixture until it becomes thick, could take up to 1/2 hour. Remove from heat.
5. For the Frosting, beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks using an electric mixer.
6. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring the sugar, rhubarb, and water to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to boil until it reaches "soft ball" stage (when a drop of the syrup forms a soft ball when dropped in cool water).
7. Strain and discard the rhubarb.
8. Keep the mixer running while you pour a continuous stream of molten syrup into the egg whites. A stand mixer or a friend is helpful to complete this step.
9. Continue to beat for about 5 minutes, adding the vanilla after about 2 minutes. Add a few drops of red food coloring if your rhubarb isn't very red. The frosting should from stiff peaks.
10. When the cupcakes have cooled, remove the center of your cupcakes with a fork or a spoon.
11. Spoon in enough filling into the center of the each cupcake to fill the hole.
12. Spread the frosting on each cupcake using an icing knife or spatula. To get the peaks on the cupcakes, take your icing spreading instrument and place it on the frosting and simply lift upward.
13. Enjoy!

This recipe should make around 30 cupcakes. You might end up with a little extra filling, but you can always put it over ice cream... Or just eat it out of the bowl... It's up to you.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Cotton Candy Cupcakes

Yay! I finally got around to posting more cupcakes!! Sorry for the delay!

So, I know I'm advertising these as Cotton Candy Cupcakes, which is totally what I wanted to make, but they ended up being more Bubble Gum Cupcakes than anything. You see, I had done a little research and I found a Cotton Candy flavoring that I thought would work. I looked it up and was going to buy a small bottle (1 Dram, aka .063 oz) for $4. Then I noticed that I could buy a bundle of 10 bottles for $16. I decided to go that route and bought 10 different flavors. These flavorings were supposed to be really potent, so I figured that I would be good. When I went to flavor the frosting, I put a couple of drops in and tasted it. Didn't taste like Cotton Candy. Couple more drops. Still didn't taste like Cotton Candy. Long story short, I ended up putting in the whole bottle... Still didn't taste like Cotton Candy... At that point, I figured that I'll just put in a different flavor, and since I was already on a candy streak, I decided to go with Bubble gum. I put in about 8 drops and you could definitely taste it. I'll be looking for and trying out different Cotton Candy flavorings in the future and keep you updated if I find a good one!

Anyway, with that being said, my Mom gave me the idea to try out a Cotton Candy Cupcake. I thought it sounded fun and I immediately ordered the flavorings and actual cotton candy. The frosting is a Swiss Meringue Butter Cream, so it's nice and light. I'm just not a big fan of regular butter cream. I feel it's too heavy. The cake is an easy to make fluffy and moist white cake. WARNING! If you taste the batter before you bake the cupcakes, you will eat more than originally intended!

Here's how to make it:

- 1 1/4 cups Vegetable Oil
- 1 3/4 cups White Sugar
- 4 Large Eggs
- 1 Tbsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
- 1 1/2 tsp. Pure Almond Extract
- 2 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1/2 cup Cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp. Baking Powder
- 1 tsp. Salt
- 1 1/2 cups Full Fat Sour Cream

- 8 Egg Whites
- 2 2/3 cups Sugar
- 6 1/2 Sticks Unsalted Butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- Cotton Candy Flavoring
- Red and Blue Food Coloring

- Cotton Candy for decoration

Note: The frosting ingredients actually made more than necessary, so you could get away with using 6-7 egg whites. If you do however, adjust the recipe with the following. For every egg white, add 1/3 cup sugar and 6 1/2 Tbsp butter.

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. To make the cupcakes, start by mixing together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl.
3. In a second larger bowl, add the oil and the sugar.
4. Beat the oil and sugar for 2 minutes until it's mixed well together and the sugar has somewhat dissolved.
5. Add the eggs, vanilla extract, and almond extract and beat again for another couple of minutes until the mixture looks smooth and creamy.
6. Slowly add the dry ingredients to mixture until it's incorporated.
7. Add the sour cream and mix in thoroughly.
8. Fill the cupcake liners slightly over half full. I like to use a large measuring cup to pour the batter in. It's easier and a lot less messy than trying to use a spoon.
9. Bake the cupcakes for 18-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
10. Cool on a wire rack. Let them completely cool before frosting.
11. To make the frosting, you are going to need a double boiler set up. I use a large metal mixing bowl over a small pot of boiling water so that I don't have to transfer containers when I take the mixture off of the stove. If you need more information about double boilers, check out this post:
12. Start off by putting the egg whites and sugar into a large metal bowl.
13. Put the bowl into the double boiler set up and whisk the mixture constantly. If  you don't whisk, you'll end up with really sugary scrambled eggs.
14. Heat the mixture to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill off anything harmful that could possibly be in the eggs. If you don't have a thermometer, you can check the mixture by rubbing a little bit of it between your thumb and forefinger. If you feel sugar granules, you still have more heating to do. The thumb and forefinger method however isn't fool proof and you should get a thermometer just to be 100% sure.
15. Take the mixture off of the double boiler and continue whisking until the mixture reaches room temperature and stiff peaks form.
16. Whisk in the butter 1 piece at a time until it is incorporated. Note: While adding the butter and for a little bit after, the mixture will go from the nice stiff peaks of the meringue to a soupy curdled milk looking substance. Just keep whisking and it will eventually turn back into a nice smooth creamy substance. Seriously, it's like magic and I'm amazed at it every time. It's so cool!
17. Add in your flavoring to taste. Start off in small doses. It's always easier to add more flavor than it is to take it out.
18. Split the frosting into two bowls. Add the blue coloring to one bowl and the red to the other until you get the colors that you desire.
19. To get the multi-colored swirl, I half filled one piping bag with pink frosting and half filled a second with blue. I then put them both into a third piping bag with the desired tip and used them together.
20. Put a cotton candy fluff on top and enjoy!

This recipe makes about 30 cupcakes.

So, all in all, I think they turned out pretty good. I'm disappointed that the Cotton Candy flavoring didn't work out that well. Everything else was great. The frosting had the perfect light and creamy consistency. The colors and swirl turned out great. The cake was fantastic. It's moist, fluffy, and flavorful.

Note: Don't put the cotton candy fluff on top of the cupcake until you are going to serve them. I decorated all the cupcakes last night and when I checked on them this morning, the cotton candy had absorbed some of the moisture from the frosting and turned hard and crunchy. *sigh* I should have thought about that, lol.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gourmet Grilled Cheese: ep. #4

One staple lunch time meal a lot of people eat is soup and a sandwich. This weeks grilled cheese takes that concept and puts the soup ON a sandwich! I present to you this weeks Gourmet Grilled Cheese, the French Onion Sandwich.

What you'll need:
- 1/2 cup Onions, cut into large pieces
- Oil
- 1 Beef Bullion Cube
- Hot Water
- Gruyere Cheese
- Swiss Cheese
- French  Bread

To make the French Onion filling:
1. Put the onions into a pan, over medium heat, with a little bit of oil to start caramelizing. 
2. Put the Bullion Cube into a small container (I used a coffee mug) and add hot water just till the cube is covered.
3. Let the cube dissolve and then add the liquid to the onions.
4. Let the liquid reduce and the onions caramelize. There should be virtually no liquid left when it's done.
5. Add the onions to your sandwich and grill it up!

When I took the first bite of this sandwich, I just had to smile. It turned out exactly as I had hoped. It tastes just like French Onion Soup without all the broth. The onion mixture, Gruyere and Swiss cheese combination, and the crispy bread bring the whole sensation home.

I'm sorry that I haven't brought you a new cupcake yet. Things are starting to get a little hectic around my apartment, as I am going to be moving out at the end of the month. I'm going to try to make some time to make cupcakes tomorrow, but it might just have to wait for the weekend. They will be coming! I have some fun and delicious ideas that I'm dying to try, I just need to find the time! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Gourmet Grilled Cheese: ep. #3

This week's Gourmet Grilled Cheese is not what you'd typically think of when you think of grilled cheeses. I'm bringing you more of a breakfast grilled cheese if you will.

- Cream Cheese
- Raspberry Preserves

I was walking through the dairy section at the grocery store looking for the next cheese I was going to use when I picked up the little container of Cream Cheese. I figured if it was good enough to go on top of bagels, it's good enough to go inside a grilled cheese.

The preserves added some flavor and sweetness to the sandwich. Without it, it would have been a very bland sandwich indeed. Any preserves would go well on the sandwich, but I prefer raspberry.

Cupcakes this weekend:
I was planning on making some cupcakes this weekend since I'm supposed to do a blog post, but I was asked to travel for work the last part of the week and won't be able to get around to it. So, I apologize for not getting one to you this weekend. First thing next week though, I'll whip up a batch and write something up. I'm really excited for the next recipe I'm going to try out!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Gourmet Grilled Cheese: ep. #2

I'm sorry for not getting a Grilled Cheese to you last Wednesday. It was a hectic week and I just didn't get around to it. I'm back this week though with a good one!

- Granny Smith Apple
- Smokey Sharp Cheddar
- Whole Wheat Bread

Apples and cheese go together almost as well as peanut-butter and jelly. So, why wouldn't they do well on a grilled sandwich? Let's give it a try!

I've recently switched to a smokey sharp cheddar cheese as my go to fruit cheese, so I felt it was required for this sandwich. I was in the mood for a something a little more tart, hence the Granny Smith Apple. Feel free to try it out with other apples if you would like something sweeter.

When I took the first bite of this grilled cheese, it instantly had a place on my favorites list. Everything meshed very well together. I couldn't have been happier with the results. This will be a frequent lunch in the weeks to come.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Nutella Cupcakes

Sorry I that I missed the weekend, I was out of state staying at a place that didn't have free wifi. :( Here it is now without further delay!

One word: Nutella. What more do I need to say. Fine. How about, Ferrro Rocher? Yeah. That got your attention. This cupcake is made up of a delicious chocolate cake and filled and topped with chocolatey, hazelnutty goodness.

Here's how you make it:

- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 cup and 2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/3 cup and 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and warm
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp instant coffee
- 1/2 cup hot coffee
- 12 Ferrero Rochero

Nutella Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting:
- 5 large egg whites
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 sticks unsalted butter, diced and softened
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup Nutella

- 6 Ferrero Rocher, halved

1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, thoroughly combine the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt.
3. Add the butter, eggs, and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for one minute.
4. Scrape the sides of the bowl and add the instant coffee and hot coffee. Beat until the batter is smooth. The batter will be thin enough to pour.
5. Divide it evenly among the lined cups.
6. Place a whole Ferrero Rochero in the center of each well. (You heard that right! Put a whole one right in there!)
7. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the cupcake comes out clean.
8. Let the cupcakes cool.
9. To make the frosting, combine the egg whites and sugar in a metal mixing bowl over simmering water. Heat the mixture to 160 degrees while whisking constantly.
10. Remove from the heat and with an electric mixer, beat on high speed until the mixture cools and forms stiff peaks. about 10-12 minutes. Note: It is important to let the mixture cool to room temperature, otherwise when you add the butter it will melt.
11. Add the butter one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Note: The mixture may appear clumpy and almost curdled at first. This is normal. It's just how Swiss Meringue Buttercream works. Just keep mixing and it will become smooth again.
12. Add salt and vanilla. Mix to combine.
13. Set aside 1 cup of frosting for the vanilla portion of frosting.
14. Add Nutella to the remaining frosting combine thoroughly.

To Assemble:
1. Fit the first pastry bag with a large round tip and fill with the Nutella frosting.
2. Hold the Nutella filled pastry bag directly top of the cupcake and squeeze to cover the cupcake.
3. Fill the second pastry bag fitted with a star tip with the vanilla frosting.
4. Put a small amount of the vanilla frosting on top of the Nutella frosting.
5. Top with half of a Ferrero Rochero.

Makes 12 cupcakes

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Gourmet Grilled Cheese: ep. #1


I'm coming to you today with a simple, but wonderful idea. Every Wednesday (until I run out of ideas), I am going to bring you a delicious Gourmet Grilled Cheese. There are Gourmet Grilled Cheese shops popping up here and there in bigger cities, and that's where this idea came from. I love the idea of taking something simple, something I grew up eating, and elevating it to a classier level. I hope you enjoy what I will be bringing you in the weeks to come. Without further ado, I give you this weeks Grilled Cheese:

- Avocado
- Bacon
- Muenster Cheese
- Whole Wheat Bread

The Muenster and Avocado's mild flavors really let the Bacon shine in this sandwich, and bacon is delicious. I was kind of afraid that the large pieces of avocado would make a large gap and the sandwich would just fall apart, but the muenster cheese melts well to hold everything together nicely. The Avocado adds substance and nutrition (to help you feel better about eating it).

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

Starting this weekend, I am on a Cupcake Quest! I have been tasked with making the cupcakes for my sisters upcoming wedding! That means, I get to try out new recipes until we find her four favorites! My plan is to bring you a new cupcake recipe once every other weekend until we find the chosen 4!
This week, I'm bringing you some Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes!
The one thing that I will 100% be taking away from this recipe is the frosting. The frosting is a Whipped Cream Cheese frosting that is one of the best things I've tasted. Seriously, it's really good. The cake itself on the other hand was only ok. The flavor was pretty good, but I feel it turned out a little dry, which is a cupcake turn off for me. When I tinker around and find a way to make the cake more moist, I think this will be in the running for a spot at the wedding!
Here's how to make it:
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 6 large eggs
- 2 cups butter, softened
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- strawberries (to put inside each cupcake and to decorate on top)
- 8 oz cream cheese
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 2 cups heavy cream
1. To make the cupcakes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a large mixing bowl blend butter until light and fluffy.
3. Add the eggs one at a time until well combined.
4. Add the milk and vanilla.
5. Add the dry ingredients.
6. Mix the batter thoroughly. It will be thick. I was surprised at how thick it was.
7. Fill the cupcake liners 1/2 full.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Let the cupcakes cool.
10. Hollow out some of the center of the cupcakes. I used a fork to do this, but a melon baller might work too.
11. Cut the tops off of the strawberries and insert one into each of the cupcakes.
12. Now to make the frosting, use a whisk attachment on your mixer to combine the cream cheese, sugar and extracts thoroughly. While the mixture is still whipping, slowly pour in the heavy cream. 
13. Stop and scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a couple of times.
14. Whip until the cream can hold stiff peaks.
15. Use a piping bag and frost the cupcakes.
16. Decorate the top with strawberries as you see fit. I cut them up into quarters and used 1 quarter per cupcake.
Makes 36 cupcakes
Note: If you are frosting the cupcakes in advance, make sure to keep them in the refrigerator. The frosting is still made out of dairy products that can go bad.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cake

My boss who normally works in Chicago came to Pierre to visit us in our office this week, and she brought one of our other co-workers with her. We had started talking about food and we found out that our co-worker can't eat gluten or milk. After talking about what kind of food she had to avoid, she mentioned that he hadn't had a flourless cake in a long time. So, I told her that I'd make her one.

This was my only my second time venturing into the world of flourless baking (the first was the Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies), so needless to say, it was an adventure. I actually ended up making two cakes with different recipes. The first one wasn't appealing at all. I ended up needing to cook it for way to long to get the center done (the first couple of toothpicks I stuck in the middle came out looking like they were covered in chocolate pudding). By the time the toothpick came out clean, the sides and bottom of the cake were burnt to a crisp. So, I threw that one away and started hunting for a different recipe.

This cake (as with most flourless cakes I'm told) turned out to have a consistency more like brownies than cake and slightly rich. I liked that the strawberries added a nice tartness to the rich flavor of the chocolate. All in all, I feel it turned out great. If I meet anyone else who has a gluten allergy, I'd be more than willing to make this again.

Here's how to make it:

- 6 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla

- 2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 1 1/2 tsp milk (I used Coffee Mate original creamer because my co-worker can't have milk)
- 1 1/2 tsp agave syrup (You could substitute honey)
- 1/8 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Grease a 7-inch spring-form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper and grease the paper.
3. To make the cake, melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler over medium heat. (If you don't have a double boiler, use a metal or glass bowl on top of another pot with some water in it. Make sure the bowl doesn't touch the water.)
4. Add in the vanilla, salt, and sugar and reduce the heat to low.
5. When the sugar starts to dissolve, remove it from the heat.
6. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking thoroughly after each one.
7. Add the cocoa powder and whisk until the batter is smooth.
8. Pour the batter into the pan and bake in the oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean. About 30 minutes.
9. Cool the pan on a wire rack for 20 minutes then invert the cake on a plate.
10. To make the glaze, melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler.
11. When melted, remove the pan from the heat and add the milk, agave syrup, and vanilla. whisk until smooth and glossy.
12. Pour the glaze onto the center of the cake and spread it around with a rubber spatula.
13. (Optional) Top the cake with your favorite fruit or maybe some whipped cream.