Friday, September 30, 2011

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes with Strawberry Frosting

My darling husband bought me a huge Wilton cake decorating caddy for my birthday this year.  I have no idea what half of the tools are for, but I love to experiment.  I made these cupcakes for my friend's baby shower that I co-hosted a few weeks ago.  I usually use a large star tip to pipe frosting onto cupcakes but I wanted to try something a little different (these are made with the small petal tip).  I had seen this on another blog and thought they looked so pretty.  Not bad for a first attempt, right?

The cupcakes were delicious, I got the recipe from Joy of Baking, and they were moist and had lots of cocoa flavor.  There isn't a lot of banana in the recipe so it wasn't too overpowering.  The frosting was awesome, and even better the next day when each petal had gotten that crisp sugar texture.  I made the cupcake wrappers from a tutorial on Cupcake Project, it was super easy and I thought they looked quite pretty.  Thanks for visiting!

Chocolate Banana Cupcakes
from Joy of 

1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
1 cup (130 grams) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (35 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (regular or Dutch-processed)
3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/2 cup mashed ripe bananas (about 1 medium sized banana)
1/2 cup (120 ml) warm water
1/4 cup (60 ml) milk
1/4 cup (60 ml) canola, corn, or vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place rack in the center of the oven. Line 12 regular-sized muffin cups with paper liners or spray each cup with a non stick vegetable spray.
In a large bowl whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In another large bowl, whisk together the egg, mashed banana, water, milk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir, or whisk, until combined. (The batter is quite thin.) Pour or scoop the batter into the muffin cups, about 3/4 full, and bake for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  
Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.

Strawberry Frosting

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
2 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar
1- 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons pureed strawberries (approximately ½ cup whole)

Combine butter and confectioner’s sugar in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.  Beat on low speed for about 1 minute, or until the butter and sugar come together (it will start off quite crumbly).  Add the whipping cream and beat on high speed until the frosting becomes light and fluffy, approximately 2 minutes.  Add the strawberries and beat until combined.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Mocha Cream Icebox Cake

You know you're behind on your blogging when you have pictures of desserts and you have no idea what they are.  Anyways...

I made this delicious and super easy icebox cake when I was in Canada this summer.  Icebox cakes look and taste impressive but are insanely easy to make.  I found this one of my favorite blogs, Sugar Bananas.  It's creamy, mochalicious, and just a little bit boozy.  Perfect for a hot summer's day.   I cheated and used store-bought chocolate wafers, but come on, I was on vacation. :)  I also used cream cheese instead of marscapone, which we couldn't seem to easily find.  The hardest part of this was waiting until company arrived to cut a slice!

Mocha Cream Icebox Cake
adapted very slightly from Sugar Bananas

2 cups cold heavy cream
8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup coffee liqueur
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon espresso powde
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
24 oz thin chocolate cookies 
Shaved semisweet chocolate, for garnish

Combine heavy cream, cream cheese, sugar, coffee liquer, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla in bowl of electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment.  Mix on low speed to combine and then raise the speed until firm peaks are formed.

Arrange cookies on bottom of an 8" springform pan to cover the bottom.  Spread a third of the mocha cream evenly over the cookies.  Layer more cookies on top, followed by another third of the cream.  Continue once more, ending with the cream.  Smooth the top, cover with plastic, and refrigerate for 8 hours.  

Run a small knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan.  Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut in wedges, and serve cold.

Linked to:

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Caramel Filled Caramel Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

I had the pleasure of making cupcakes for our friends/neighbor's son's third birthday.  I love when people request cupcakes above and beyond vanilla and chocolate, they're so much fun to make and eat.  I'm all about tasty cupcake fillings, and what better filling for caramel cupcakes than more caramel.  Seriously, can you ever have too much caramel?

I had some trouble finding an actual recipe for caramel cake, most of the cakes just use brown sugar instead of white, or a mixture.  Finally I found this recipe from Shuna fish Lydon which uses a caramel syrup in the batter.  The cake didn't have the strongest caramel flavor and would have been completely overpowered by the chocolate frosting, so the filling definitely added to the caramel deliciousness.  I used a standard chocolate frosting recipe, and it came out nice and fluffy, perfect for piping.  Some colored sprinkles were a must for this sweet boy's birthday celebration!

Caramel Cake
from Shuna fish Lydon
(adapted to make cupcakes)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup caramel syrup (recipe follows)
2  large eggs, room temperature
splash vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 24 muffin tins with cupcake liners.  Sift together flour and baking powder.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth.
Add sugar and salt & cream until light and fluffy.  Slowly pour room temperature caramel syrup into bowl.  Scrape down bowl and increase speed. Add eggs/vanilla extract a little at a time, mixing well after each addition. Scrape down bowl again, beat mixture until light and uniform.

Turn mixer to lowest speed, and add one third of the dry ingredients. When incorporated, add half of the milk, a little at a time.  Add another third of the dry ingredients, then the other half of the milk and finish with the dries.

Take off mixer and by hand, use a spatula to do a few last folds. making sure batter is uniform.
Fill the cupcake liners about 3/4 of the way full.  I actually found the recipe made about 18 cupcakes per batch, but you could probably fill the tins a bit less full and get more.  Bake for approximately 22 minutes.  Let cool for about 5 minutes and then remove cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Caramel Syrup

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup water for "stopping"

In a small stainless steel saucepan, with tall sides, mix water and sugar until mixture feels like wet sand.  Brush down any stray sugar crystals with wet pastry brush.  Turn heat on high.  Cook until smoking slightly: dark amber.

When color is achieved, very carefully pour in one cup of water. Caramel will jump and sputter, it is very dangerous, so have long sleeves on and prepared to step back.  Whisk over medium heat until it has reduced slightly (about 5 minutes).

Caramel Sauce for Filling
from Martha Stewart

2 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt (if you like salted caramel increase this to at least 1 1/2 teaspoons)

Heat sugar with the water and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan over high, stirring occasionally, until syrup is clear; clip a candy thermometer to side of pan and stop stirring.

Cook until syrup comes to a boil, washing down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush as needed. Boil, gently swirling pan occasionally, until mixture is caramelized and just reaches 360°F. Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream; stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Stir in sea salt.

Use immediately; if caramel begins to harden reheat gently until pourable.

Chocolate Frosting

2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons butter, softened to room temp
5 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, sift together the confectioners' sugar and cocoa, and set aside.
In a large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth, then gradually beat in sugar mixture alternately with whipping cream. Blend in vanilla. Beat until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. 


To finish, use a paring knife to cut a cone-shaped piece (about 1/2 inch deep) from the center of each cupcake and throw away the pieces (or eat them). Spoon 1 to 2 teaspoons warm Salted Caramel Filling into each hollowed-out cupcake. You will notice the caramel will sink into the cupcake a little, just fill it up a bit more.  Make sure the caramel is completely cool before you pipe over your frosting or it will probably start to melt your frosting.

Use a pastry bag with a medium open-star tip and pipe chocolate frosting onto each cupcake, swirling tip and releasing as you pull up to form a peak. Garnish each cupcake with a pinch of sea salt. Cupcakes are best eaten the day they are filled and frosted. Store at room temperature in airtight containers - do NOT refrigerate.

Linked to:
Sweets for a Saturday
Sweet Indulgences Sunday

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Pink Layer Cake with Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting

My sweet little Ellis was baptized while we were home in Canada, so of course I wanted to make a fancy cake for her party afterward.  I had seen this gorgeous idea for a pink layer cake on Martha's website a few months ago, and what better for a darling little girl than a completely pink cake?

I had intended for the entire cake to be covered in roses, but after frosting the top I knew there was no way I had enough and I didn't have time to make more.  I still think it turned out pretty cute.  The cake itself is pretty dense, but tasty nonetheless.

I got quite a few complients on the frosting, I used my favorite recipe from Glorious Treats, but subbed in some raspberry flavoring which I got from the Gourmet Warehouse in Vancouver.  Which by the way, if you live there it is such an awesome source for all things baking.

Pink Layer Cake

3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans and parchment
6 1/2 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising), plus more for pans and parchment
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sugar
10 large egg whites
Gel-paste food coloring
2 recipes raspberry cream cheese frosting (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter five 8-inch round cake pans, and line with parchment (you may need to bake in batches). Butter parchment, and dust with flour, tapping out excess. Sift flour, baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a large bowl. Combine milk and vanilla. Beat butter with a mixer on medium speed until very smooth. With machine running, gradually add sugar, and beat until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Reduce speed to low, and add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture, beginning and ending with flour. Beat until just combined; do not overmix.
Beat egg whites in a clean mixer bowl on medium speed until stiff (but not dry) peaks form, about 3 minutes. Gently fold egg-white mixture into batter in 3 additions.
Divide batter among 5 bowls, and tint each with food coloring to create different pastel shades. Spread each into a prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes. Let cool completely in pans on wire racks.
Loosen edges of cake with a small metal spatula or paring knife; invert onto racks. Discard parchment. Reinvert cakes, top side up. Let cool completely.

Trim top of each cake to make surface even. Spread 1 cup frosting onto top of 1 cake. Top with another cake. Repeat, spreading 1 cup frosting between each layer. Frost cake with about 1 cup of frosting to create a crumb coat.  Basically this should be a very thin layer of frosting that will help to seal in the cake and act as a base for your roses.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.  Frost the sides of the cake with about 1 1/2 cups of frosting.  To create roses use a large open star tip and pipe frosting in circles, starting in the center.  Place raspberries around the bottom of the cake.  Et voila!

Raspberry Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted slightly from Glorious Treats

½ cup (1 stick/8 Tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (always use pure vanilla extract if possible)
1 1/2 teaspoons raspberry flavoring
4 cups powdered confectioners sugar
1 Tablespoon heavy cream, heavy whipping cream or milk

Place butter in a large mixing bowl and blend until smooth. Add cream cheese and blend until well combined, about 30 seconds.
Add vanilla extract, raspberry flavoring and powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) and blend on low speed until combined. Increase to medium speed and beat until it begins to get fluffy.
Slowly add the heavy cream.
Beat until fluffy, about 1 minute.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Samoas Cupcakes

I'll be honest here, I don't really like Girl Scout cookies.  But the flavor combinations are brilliant.  Especially Samoas.  Chocolate, caramel, and coconut, what could be better?  I had seen different versions on the samoas cupcake on several blogs, and while on vacation in August I had plenty of time for baking and plenty of people to bake for so I thought I would finally give these a go.

If you love the three main flavors in samoas you will ADORE these cupcakes.  They were simply scrumptious, and looked pretty impressive to if I do say so myself.  I used my favorite chocolate cake recipe, and the salted caramel buttercream frosting from Bakers Royale.  I topped the cupcakes off with some toasted coconut and drizzled chocolate (wonderful ideas also from Bakers Royale).  Much better than the cookies. ;)

Samoas Cupcakes

Chocolate Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 cup butter
1 cup water
5 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line 24 cupcake tins with liners.

Combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat in the sour cream and eggs. Set aside. Melt the butter on low in a saucepan, add the water and 5 tablespoons cocoa. Bring mixture to a boil then remove from heat. Allow to cool slightly, then stir cocoa mixture into the egg mixture, mixing until blended.

Scoop batter into lined cupcake tins, about 3/4 full. Bake in the preheated oven for about 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Let cool for about 5 minutes and then remove each cupcake to a wire rack to cool completely.  

Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting
from Bakers Royale

½ cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons of heavy cream
½ teaspoons of kosher salt
1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
11/2 cup powdered sugar

To make the caramel portion: Add sugar and water into a saucepan over medium low heat. Stir until sugar has dissolved. Use a wet brush to remove any crystals that form on the side. Once sugar has dissolved increase heat to high. Now and then, using the handle give the pot a swirl to keep the mixture moving. Do not stir the mixture directly. The mixture will start to bubble after a minute. As the mixture darkens to a medium amber color, approximately 5-7 minutes add the 2 tablespoons of  butter and cream to saucepan. The mixture will bubble wildly. Whisk to combine (bubbles will subside upon cooling). Add salt and stir to combine. Set aside to cool completely before adding it to the next step.
Finishing the caramel buttercream frosting: Place butter and vanilla in a bowl and beat on high until butter is pale and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Turn mixer speed down to medium and add powdered sugar ½ cup at a time. Beat until combined. 3. Add in  caramel sauce and beat until combined.
Toasted Coconuts
½ cup of sweetened coconut

Spread coconut on baking pan and place in an oven set to 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes or until shreds start to turn light brown.  Stir coconut around once to ensure even toasting.

Chocolate Drizzle
¼ cup milk chocolate
Melt chocolate carefully in the microwave or in a pot set over simmering water.  To drizzle I pour the melted chocolate into a zip lock bag and cut a tiny hole in the bottom.


Pipe the frosting onto each cooled cupcake.  Top with cooled toasted coconut and drizzle with milk chocolate.  Enjoy!  

Linked to:
Sweet Indulgences Sunday
Melt in Your Mouth Monday

Monday, September 5, 2011

Homemade S'mores

Hi all!  We're back from our lovely vacation visiting family and friends in BC.  It was so great to see so many people that we haven't seen for a couple years.  I'm actually feeling a little homesick still, even after being gone since 2005.

But let's get back to business.  I made these s'mores before we left, using my homemade marshmallows and graham crackers.  First let me tell you that when made over a fire (we made ours over a fire bowl in our backyard) these don't look anything like they're pictured below.  But they're oh so good.  Rather than roasting the marshmallow and then building your s'mores sandwich you compile the entire thing, wrap it in foil and roast.  So you end up with an ooey gooey delectable treat. 

If you don't want to bother with making the marshmallows and crackers (but you'll be glad if you do) these would still be delightful with store bought ingredients.  If you are going camping you can make these packets up beforehand and have s'mores any old time you feel like it. 

Ultimate S'mores
from Sunset Magazine

Vegetable oil
Homemade Graham Crackers
4 bars (3.5 oz. each) dark chocolate with almonds (such as Lindt), each broken into 3 pieces
Homemade Marshmallows
Fold 12 sheets of foil, each 12 by 20 in., in half crosswise; then oil tops. Center 1 graham cracker on each oiled doubled sheet, then top with a chocolate piece, marshmallow, and another cracker. Gently fold foil over s'mores and crimp to seal.

 Heat packets on a cooking grate over glowing coals in a campfire or on a grill over medium heat (about 350°), turning often just until chocolate softens, 2 to 3 minutes. Or, using tongs, grasp packets on sides and heat over a low fire.
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