Churro Cupcakes

churro cupcake 2Have you ever had a churro before?  It’s a giant stick of fried dough with tons of cinnamon sugar on it.  It’s different from zepoles and funnel cakes because it’s more dense and has a thicker outer crust.  I get my churro craving satisfied at Costco.  It’s just one dollar for about 1½ feet of sweet fried goodness.  Such a good bargain!  The trick is to get it before you start shopping so you have a little snack, and you don’t have to worry about a cinnamon sugar trail being left in the house.
churro cupcake 1Here is my ode to a churro.  It is a cinnamon buttermilk cake with fluffy marshmallow frosting topped with cinnamon sugar and a bite-sized churro.  It takes a bit of work to make but it’s a lot of fun and a great idea for Cinco De Mayo. 🙂
churro cupcake 3Churro Cupcakes

Makes about 28 cupcakes

Cinnamon Buttermilk Cake

Ingredients:
3 c. cake flour
2  c. sugar
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1¼  c. buttermilk, divided
8 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
4 eggs, room temperature
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line muffin pans with cupcake liners.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, ground cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. On low speed, add 1 c. buttermilk and butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk, ¼ c. buttermilk, and vanilla extract until homogenous.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.
  6. Increase speed to medium, and mix until combined.
  7. Fill 2/3 of cupcake liners.
  8. Bake about 13-16 minutes until cake is done or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then move onto a cooling rack until completely cool.

Churros

For the cinnamon sugar
Ingredients:
½ c. sugar
1½ tsp. ground cinnamon

For the batter
Ingredients:
1½ tbsp. sugar
1 c. water
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. plus 2 quarts vegetable oil, divided
1 c. all-purpose flour

Instructions:

  1. In a medium shallow bowl, mix together ½ c. sugar and ground cinnamon.  Set aside.
  2. In a small saucepan combine sugar, water, sat and 2 tbsp. vegetable oil and bring to a boil.
  3. Take the pan off heat and stir in flour until a ball of dough forms.
  4. In a medium heavy bottomed pan, heat oil to 375˚F and line a sheet pan with paper towels for draining.
  5. Transfer dough to a piping bag fitted with a large star tip.
  6. Squeeze out 1-2 inches of dough and have it ready for frying.
  7. Once the oil is ready, use a slotted spoon or a spider to transfer the dough into the hot oil and fry until golden brown.
  8. Remove the fried dough onto the sheet pan with a slotted spoon or a spider and let drain for about a minute.
  9. Toss the warm churros into the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Reserve leftover cinnamon sugar mixture to dust on top of cupcakes.

Marshmallow Frosting

Ingredients:
6 egg whites (180 g.)
1½ c. sugar
¼ tsp. cream of tartar
1 pinch of salt
1½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot fill about 1 in. of water and let it come to a simmer.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar and salt until homogenous.
  3. Once the water comes to a simmer, place the bowl on top of the pot and whisk the egg white mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved and no longer grainy.
  4. Move the bowl to your standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on high speed until glossy and stiff.
  5. Add the vanilla extract and mix completely.
  6. Fill a piping bag fitted with the biggest plain piping tip you have.

Assembly:

  1. Pipe a large dollop onto the cupcake by holding the piping bag perpendicular to the cupcake and squeeze using an even pressure until your desired size forms.
  2. In a fine mesh sieve, dust reserved cinnamon sugar topping onto the frosted cupcake.
  3. Garnish with a piece of churro.

Cake recipe adapted from sky high.
Churro recipe adapted from just a taste.
Marshmallow frosting recipe adapted from Marth Stewart.

Milk Bar Corn Cookies

corn cookie 3After hearing about Christia Tosi’s amazing creations for years, I finally had the opportunity to go to a Momofuku Milk Bar last weekend.  Everything sounded delicious but I had three things I just had to try:

1) crack pie
2) cereal milk soft serve with cornflake crunch
3) corn cookie

corn cookie 2They were all good but I think I set my bar way too high because I was not impressed for the most part.  My favorite out of all three was the corn cookie and even that was disappointing because I wanted it to be more corn-y.
corn cookie 1I had the recipe for corn cookies bookmarked from Christina Tosi’s book for years, but I didn’t want to make it before I had the real thing.  So with finally having a Milk Bar experience under my belt, I gave the recipe a spin.  I followed all the instructions: bought European butter, King Arthur bread flour, corn flour, and freeze dried corn, measured every single ingredient by weight, and even did two batches of cookie dough, one resting for 1 hour and another 24 hours.  (FYI a 24-hour rest yielded a better cookie.)
corn cookie 5And guess what, it wasn’t the same!  It didn’t have the buttery smooth interior of the original and the flavor wasn’t all there.   I’m not saying it was a bad cookie.  It was delicious with a slight corn scent and a lingering crispness.  I guess you could say that I was looking for a clone, but I found a sibling instead.
corn cookie 4I’m working on my own corn cookie, a cornier and chewier version.  But until then, I’ll leave you with the official recipe.  (It’s still really good! I promise!)

Milk Bar Corn Cookies
From Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi, David Chang

Ingredients:
16 tbsp. or 2 sticks (225 g) butter*, at room temperature
1½ c. (300 g) sugar
1 egg
1⅓ c. (225 g) flour**
¼ c. (45 g) corn flour***
⅔ c. (65 g) freeze-dried corn powder****
¾ tsp. (3 g) baking powder
¼ tsp. (1.5 g) baking soda
1½ tsp. (6 g) kosher salt

Instructions:

  1. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, corn flour, corn powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Using a 2 3/4-ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1⁄3-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature–they will not bake properly.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F.
  5. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center; give them an extra minute if not.
  6. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or to an airtight container for storage. At room temp, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

*European butter is recommended for the higher fat content and its characteristic yellow color.
**King Arthur Bread Flour is recommended for the higher protein content.  However because of the higher protein, you must be careful when adding your flour.  Once the flour is mixed, be careful not to over mix because it will easily form tough cookies.
***Corn flour can be found online or in well stocked supermarkets.   I found mine at Whole Foods.
****You can make your own freeze-dried corn powder by grinding freeze-dried corn in a food processor or blender.  You can find it online or in well stocked supermarkets.  I found mine at Target.

Karamel Sutra Macarons (Chocolate Caramel Macarons)

Ice Cream MacaronsI love ice cream.  In high school, I used to eat an entire pint of ice cream in one sitting without blinking an eye.  It was a habit that quickly stopped once I started counting calories in college.  Yes the number of calories scared me, but I didn’t love it any less.
Ice Cream MacaronOne of my favorite ice cream is Karamel Sutra from Ben and Jerry’s.  Featuring “a core of soft caramel encircled by chocolate & caramel ice creams & fudge chips”, it is a sinfully indulgent treat.  I’ve been haunted by the idea of putting macarons on mini ice cream cones for the longest time. So, I decided to take the plunge with one of my all-time favorites.
Ice Cream MacaronsIce Cream MacaronsSitting on top of a caramel filled cone and chocolate frosting, this macaron has a chewy caramel center that is encased by chocolate frosting.  It is delightfully charming and insanely delicious.  So delicious in fact, the entire batch disappeared within one night! (FYI This is pretty rare.)
Ice Cream Macarons

Karamel Sutra Macarons
(Chocolate Caramel Mini Ice Cream Macarons)

You will need:
Mini Ice Cream Cones
Macarons
Chocolate Frosting
Salted Caramel Filling
Whipped Cream (Optional)
Sprinkles (Optional)
Maldon Salt (Optional)

Basic French Macarons
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
  2. In the bowl of a food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.  Add two drops of the pink gel food color and mix until batter turns a light shade of pink.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds.
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.  Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter are dry to the touch, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot go for 275˚, if not then 325˚.
  12. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  13. Let cool and fill.

Salted Caramel Filling

Ingredients:
1 c. sugar
3 tbsp. light corn syrup
3 tbsp. water
¾ c. heavy cream
3 tbsp. unsalted butter, room temp
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, mix and boil sugar, corn syrup and water until a golden amber color forms.
  2. While the sugar mixture is boiling, mix the heavy cream, unsalted butter, kosher salt, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
  3. When the sugar mixture turns amber, add the cream mixture.  Be careful!  It will bubble up and create a lot of steam.
  4. Attach a candy thermometer and cook sugar mixture until the mixture reaches 235 degrees.
  5. Promptly remove to a large glass spout cup and cool.
  6. Once cooled, transfer into a squeeze bottle.

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:
⅔ c. all-purpose flour
⅓ c. cocoa powder
1 c. milk
⅛ tsp. salt
8 oz. butter
⅔ c. sugar
8 oz. chocolate, melted and cooled
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt, cocoa powder and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the refrigerator until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate and mix until combined.
  8. Fill frosting in a piping bag fitted with a ¼ or ½ in. plain piping tip.

Assembly:

If the filling has cooled too much at any point of the assembly, rewarm in the microwave for 15-20 seconds until fluid once more.

  1. On one cooled macaron shell, frost a round dam around the edge of the cookie.
  2. Put into freezer to set frosting for 5 minutes.
  3. Fill the inside of the macaron with caramel filling. Top with another macaron shell.
  4. In a mini ice cream cone, fill about 1/3 of the way with caramel filling.  Pipe a round of chocolate frosting onto the lip of the ice cream cone.  It should look somewhat like a doughnut. (As shown in the above photo.)
  5. Put an assembled macaron on top of the chocolate frosting on the ice cream cone and set in the freezer for about 5 minutes.
  6. From here you can enjoy as is or go further with your decorations:
    1. Top your macaron with another macaron for a double scoop effect. (As shown in the above photo.)
    2. Top your macaron with reserved caramel filling and sprinkle with maldon sea salt (or any other flaky sea salt you have on hand). (As shown in the above photo.)
    3. Top your macaron with reserved caramel filling and top with whipped cream and sprinkes. (As shown in the above photo.)

Easter Bunny Surprise Cake

Easter bunny cake 1Here comes Peter Cottontail, Hoppin’ down the bunny trail… was the song that was running through my head when I thought of this cake.  Can you imagine the look of surprise people will give you when you cut into this?  Unfortunately for me, my family saw every step of the assembly and expected it when I cut into this cake.  Learn from my mistake, and keep it secret when you give it a try.
Easter bunny cake 2The great thing about this technique is that it is adaptable to many holidays and special occasions.  Off the top of my head, you could do tulips for Mother’s Day, a bat for Halloween, and even alternating red, white, and blue stars for Independence Day.  I think I may be giving away future blog posts so I’ll just stop here.
Easter bunny cake 3My only caveat to you is: 1) measure to make sure your cutouts will fit into the loaf pan (both horizontally and vertically) and 2) to keep your cutout design simple because you will lose the finer details when the cake bakes.  Other than that, I hope you have fun trying this cake!  Don’t worry, at this point I’m so tired of bunnies and Easter eggs, you will probably not see any more posts of them until next spring. 😀

Easter bunny cake 4

Easter Bunny Surprise Cake

You will need:
1 Batch of Pink Sheet Cake
1 Batch of Yellow Cake
1 Batch of Green Frosting
1 Batch of Chocolate Frosting
Bunny Cookie Cutter
Mini Chocolate Eggs
Grass Frosting Tip (Optional)

Pink Sheet Cake

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. all purpose flour
1 c. sugar
½ tbsp. baking powder
⅛ tsp. salt
¾ buttermilk, divided
4 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
2 eggs,  room temperature
1 egg yolk
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Pink gel food coloring

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. On low speed, add ½ c. buttermilk and butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk, ¼ c. buttermilk, and vanilla extract until homogenous.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.
  6. Increase speed to medium, and mix until combined.
  7. On low speed, add pink food coloring until desired color is reached.
  8. Spread batter onto the sheet pan until fully covered.
  9. Bake 10-12 minutes until cake is set.
  10. Let cool.
  11. Cut out bunny shapes. (as shown above)
  12. Chill in freezer.

Yellow Cake

Ingredients:
1 c. cake flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 ⅓  c. sugar
¾ tbsp. baking powder
⅛ tsp. salt
1 c. buttermilk, divided
6 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
3 eggs, room temperature
1 egg yolk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F and line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined.
  3. On low speed, add ¾ c. buttermilk and butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk eggs, egg yolk, ¼ c. buttermilk, and vanilla extract until homogenous.
  5. On low speed, slowly add the egg mixture to the flour mixture.
  6. Increase speed to medium, and mix until combined.
  7. Spread batter until ¼-½ in. up the loaf pan.
  8. Stack the chilled cake cutouts side by side, horizontally, without any spaces in between.
  9. Place the stacked cake cutouts into the center of the cake pan, carefully making sure no gaps form in between.
  10. Spread rest of the batter into cake pan.
  11. Bake 30-45 minutes until cake is done or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  12. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, and then flip onto a cooling rack until completely cool.

Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients:
⅔ c. all-purpose flour
⅓ c. cocoa powder
1 c. milk
⅛ tsp. salt
8 oz. butter
⅔ c. sugar
8 oz. chocolate, melted and cooled
½ tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt, cocoa powder and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the refrigerator until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and melted chocolate and mix until combined.
  8. Smooth chocolate frosting over the loaf cake, and place in the freezer

Green Frosting:

Ingredients:
½ c. whole milk
¼ c. flour
⅛ tsp. salt
2 oz. unsalted butter, room temperature
½ c. sugar
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
green gel food coloring

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.
  8. Add green frosting until desire colored is reached.
  9. Add a thin layer of green frosting to top of cake.
  10. Chill cake in freezer for 3-5 minutes.
  11. Optional: Put the green frosting into a piping bag fitted with the grass frosting tip and pipe grass all over top of chilled cake.
  12.  Garnish top of cake with mini chocolate eggs.

Strawberry Macarons

strawberry macaron 3I cannot think of another cookie that is as beautiful and finicky as the macaron.  The saying goes “beauty is pain”, and this beauty is indeed a pain.  A pain in the butt to make.  Why?  It uses several kitchen tools (which translates to a lot of dishes), needs to dry for over 30 minutes, and after all the meticulous measuring, sifting and baking, you can still fail.

Strawberry Macarons 2Why bother making them then?  Because, when done right a macaron is indeed a beautiful and perfect thing.   The smooth shell that breaks into a moist, airy center might as well be heaven in a cookie.

strawberry macaron 1I must warn you; this is not a cookie that you bake on a whim.  You must premeditate your actions and read through the recipe a few times before taking the dive.  You must weigh out your ingredients,  sift your flour mix, age your egg whites, and I don’t recommend making this on a humid day.  Do I sound bossy?  I just don’t want you to waste your expensive almond flour because those bags aren’t a dime a dozen.  I love you, my readers and best of your luck on your quest!

strawberry macaron 4

Strawberry Macarons

Basic French Macarons
Adapted from Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Keller, Sebastien Rouxel

Ingredients:
212 g. almond meal
212 g. powdered sugar
172 g. egg whites, divided to 82 g. and 90 g (aged, if possible)
236 g. sugar
158 g. water
pink gel food color
optional: sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In the bowl of your food processor, add the almond meal and powdered sugar and pulse until thoroughly combined.
  3. Sift the mixture over a large mixing bowl, throwing out the lumps as they appear.  Add 82 g. of the egg whites and stir until you get a thick mixture.
  4. In a small pot attached with a candy thermometer, combine the sugar and water over medium heat and boil until the syrup reaches 200˚F.
  5. Once the syrup reaches 200˚F, start whipping the remaining 90 g. in the bowl of your stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium speed until soft peaks are reached.
  6. Once the syrup reaches 248 degrees, remove the pot off the burner and slowly pour the syrup down the side of the mixing bowl with the egg whites on medium speed.
  7. Once the egg whites are fully incorporated, increase the speed to medium high until egg whites form glossy, stiff peaks.  Add two drops of the pink gel food color and mix until batter turns a light shade of pink.
  8. Mix a ⅓ of the egg white mix to the almond mixture and stir together until the batter is slightly lighter and less pasty.  From then on, fold in ⅓ of the egg white mixture at a time until the mixture “flows like magma”.  The mixture should be smooth and run thick ribbons off the spatula.
  9. With a pastry bag fitted with a ½ in. plain tip, you can pipe one of two ways:
    1. Pipe 1¼ – 1½ in. rounds (as shown in above photo)
    2. Pipe 1 ¼ – 1 ½ in. triangles that resemble the shape of a strawberry (as shown in above photo)
  10. The piped batter may have peaks but should smooth away in a minute or two.  Let the batter stand until the tops of the macaron batter have dried*, about 30 mins to 1 hour.
  11. Optional: If using sesame seeds, sprinkle it on top about 5 minutes after the batter is piped. (as shown in above photo)
  12. Preheat the oven to 275-325˚F.  If your oven tends to run hot, go for 275˚ if not then 325˚.
  13. Bake 10-13 minutes, until the feet are formed and the tops are smooth.  The batter is done when you slightly wiggle it and it starts to come off of the parchment paper / silicone mat.
  14. Let cool and fill.

For the strawberry macarons, make the strawberry frosting and strawberry puree in my Neapolitan cupcakes post.

Assembly:

  1. On a cooled macaron shell, pipe a circle around the edge with the frosting, leaving the center empty.
  2. Once all of the halves have  a frosting border, chill in the freezer for about 5 minutes until set.
  3. Take out the macarons and fill the center with the strawberry puree. (as shown in above photo)
  4. Optional: you can pipe green frosting on the other half of the macaron shell to imitate leaves.
  5. Top it with another macaron shell.

Macarons taste best after aging.  To age macarons, put assembled macarons in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.  They should be perfect for consumption at this point.


*When you lightly touch the macaron shell, it should feel dry and not stick to your finger.

Neapolitan Cupcakes

Neapolitan Cupcakes 1I believe that most of the world is split between two factions: chocolate and vanilla.  You love one more than the other. 
Neapolitan Cupcakes 2But then there is a small cluster of us who like them all: chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  We stand in front of grocery freezers and ice cream parlors for minutes on end trying to choose.  “They all sound good!”  “I can go for all of them!”  We secretly like having to share with someone who is in the chocolate or vanilla faction just to avoid making a final decision.

Neapolitan Cupcakes 4This cupcake is for us.  You get the fruity tart strawberry with the sweet lightness of vanilla and dark richness of chocolate.  All rolled into one.  No more time wasted on your preference.  Think of the time you’ll save!

Neapolitan Cupcakes

Chocolate Cupcakes
Recipe Adapted from Ina Garten

Ingredients:
1 ¾ c. all-purpose flour
2 c. sugar
¼ c. natural unsweetened cocoa powder
½ c. Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1. tsp. kosher salt
½ c. vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 c. strong, hot coffee

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line 2 muffin pans with cupcake liners (24 cups in total).
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, both cocoa powders, baking soda, baking powder and salt until fully combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla extract until combined.
  4. With the mixer speed on low, add the egg mixture to the flour mixture until combined.
  5. Turn off the mixer.  With a spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl to fully incorporate the two mixtures.
  6. Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the hot coffee to the batter.  Once added, raise the speed to medium until completely homogenous.
  7. Fill cupcake liners with 2/3 full with batter and bake about 15-20 minutes. Checking at 13 minutes for doneness with a toothpick test.*
  8. Let stand for 5-10 minutes when done, then put onto a cooling rack to fully cool.

Strawberry Puree

Ingredients:
3 cups of strawberries, smashed
1 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook strawberries and lemon juice on medium heat until mixture thickens and reduces 1/3-1/2 of the original volume, about 5-10 minutes.
  2. Once thickened, put in a bowl to cool and refrigerate.

Basic Vanilla Frosting

Ingredients:
2 c. whole milk
½ c. flour
¼ tsp. salt
1 1b. (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 c. sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

Instructions:

  1. In a saucier pan, put milk, salt and flour and whisk until combined on medium heat.
  2. Continuously whisk mixture until thickened to a pudding like consistency.
  3. Once thickened, strain through a mesh strainer into a bowl with a spatula to remove lumps.
  4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the flour mixture and put into the fridge until fully cool.
  5. In a mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, mix the sugar and butter on high speed until fluffy and pale about, 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add the chilled flour mixture and continue to whip on high speed until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is no longer gritty, about 5-10 minutes.
  7. Add the vanilla extract and mix until combined.

Strawberry Frosting

Ingredients:
1 batch of strawberry puree
⅔ batch of vanilla frosting

Instructions:

  1. Mix vanilla frosting with ½ of strawberry puree until the mixture turns strawberry pink and fluffy.
  2. Give mix a taste and if not flavored enough, add puree ¼ at a time until desired flavor is reached.

* The toothpick test: insert a toothpick into a cupcake and if the toothpick comes out clean or with a few crumbs clinging to it, it is done.

White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs

Two years ago, I bought a Jello egg mold with grand hopes that it will mold and form beautiful rainbow-striped Jello eggs.   After mixing endless bowls of different flavored Jello, the project flopped terribly.  The eggs didn’t set properly and I ended up with shattered Jello eggs that wouldn’t hold their shape.  I called it a lost cause and put the mold away thinking I would never use it again.

Chocolate Tiramisu Egg 3

Fast forward two years and I unearthed the egg mold while digging through my cake pans.  Since Easter is around the corner, I called it fate and contemplated a way to use it.  It didn’t come easy, but in the end I finally thought of an original idea.  An idea that was original until this moment when I googled it and saw that 7 hours ago someone beat me to the punch!!  NOOOO!  Le sigh.

Chocolate Tiramisu Egg 2

Well original or not, these eggs look so much like the real thing at first glance it’s a little weird to eat them.  But you need to, because encased in the chocolate egg is the most heavenly bite of tiramisu.  It’s adorable and let’s be honest, it’s a little fun freaking out people.

Chocolate Tiramisu Egg 4

White Chocolate Tiramisu Eggs

You will need:

1 Batch of Lady Fingers (Recipe Below)
1 Batch of Mascarpone Cream (Recipe Below)
1 Cup of Strong Coffee
1/2 Package of White Chocolate Melts
1 Jello Egg Mold*
Approximately 10 Pieces of Yellow Chocolate Melts
Cocoa Powder (Optional)

Assembly:

  1. Place white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl/cup with a spout.
  2. Melt the white chocolate melts in the microwave in 15 second intervals until completely melted.
  3. Thoroughly spray the inside of your egg mold with a non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Use the spout of your bowl/cup to pour white chocolate into the egg about ¼ of the way.
  5. Start rotating your egg mold (left, right, and upside down) until it starts to set.** (When flipping the egg mold upside down, do so above your melted chocolate so the excess can drip back into the bowl.)
  6. Once set, repeat steps 4 and 5 two more times to ensure through covering and place in freezer to completely set. (4-5 minutes)
  7. While the eggs are setting,
    1. Punch out ½ -⅔ in circles of the prepared lady fingers.
    2. Place Mascarpone cream into a piping bag fitted with a ¼ in. plain piping tip.
  8. Take the eggs out of the freezer and carefully unmold the chocolate. It may stick a little. Just wiggle it around and it should come out in one piece.
  9. Run a serrated knife in hot tap water and wipe off excess water. While the knife is hot, cut the top ¼ -⅙ of the egg. (After every egg, make sure to reheat your knife for easier cutting.)
  10. Place the eggs back into the bottom half of the egg mold, and put about a teaspoon of the mascarpone cream inside.
  11. Layer one piece of the lady finger and with a small pastry brush, brush coffee onto the lady finger to soak it. Place a second piece of lady finger on top and brush coffee again.
  12. Layer another teaspoon of mascarpone cream, and repeat step 11.
  13. Layer the final teaspoon of mascarpone cream and let set in freezer.
  14. Melt the yellow chocolate melts and put into a squeeze bottle for easy use.***
  15. Take the chocolate out of the freezer and squeeze a dollop of yellow chocolate melts to imitate the yolk.
  16. Optional: Pinch a little cocoa powder between your fingers and (over the sink) flick specks of cocoa onto the white chocolate. Rotate the egg and repeat until completely speckled.  (This resembles the cocoa that is usually dusted on top of traditional tiramisu.)

Lady Fingers

Ingredients:
2 eggs, separated
6 tbsp. sugar, divided
⅓ c. flour, sifted
½ tsp. vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
  2. In a stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whip egg whites until foamy.
  3. Slowly add in 2 tablespoons of sugar and continue whisking until stiff, glossy peaks form.
  4. Empty the egg whites in a separate bowl.
  5. Place 2 egg yolks and 4 tablespoons sugar into the mixer bowl and mix until pale and very thick.
  6. Add the vanilla extract and fold in sifted flour. (It will be very thick.)
  7. Mix in 1/3 of the reserved whipped egg whites to the flour mixture
  8. Fold in the remaining whipped egg whites 1/3 at a time.
  9. Spread the batter onto prepared sheet pan to about ¼ inch thick.
  10. Bake about 8 minutes, rotating the pan halfway until golden brown
  11. Let cool.

Mascarpone Cream

Ingredients:
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. powdered sugar
4 oz. mascarpone cheese

Instructions:

  1. In a cold stand mixer bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the heavy cream until soft peaks form.
  2. Sift in the powdered sugar and mix until just incorporated.
  3. Add the mascarpone cheese and mix until stiff peaks form.

* If you do not own a Jello egg mold, you can always take a shortcut and order pre-made hollow chocolate eggs from Amazon. If you do this, start from step 7.
** This process is messy. Don’t let that get you down!
*** If you do not have a squeeze bottle, you can always just spoon on the chocolate.

Blueberry Pie Cookies

blueberry pie cookie

Did you ever eat something so delicious that you make an excuse to eat it again? That’s what kind of happened with these pie cookies.

Blueberry Pie Pops 2

You see, I made these adorable pie pops for Pi Day and they rocked my socks. The only problem was they were too small. One bite and you were done.  I can satisfy myself with eating only one slice of pie because frankly, it is a whole slice of pie.  But pie pops? I sat there taste testing them one at a time, and before I knew it there was an embarrassing pile of lollipop sticks.

steps

So if figured, what’s bigger than a pie pop? From that thought, these blueberry pie cookies were born. Still small enough to be adorable but they are at least 2 bites worth, which makes them last a little longer. Unfortunately, this did not solve the eating-more-than-one dilemma because I found out that:

 Bigger dough = more filling = more delicious.

Blueberry Pie Cookies 3

I realized that the cookies don’t look very small in the photo, so here is the milk glass with my cat, Bear, for a size reference. Yes. He is adorable.

Bear with Milk

Blueberry Pie Cookies

For the Pie Dough:

Ingredients
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
2 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, very cold cut into 1 tbsp pieces
1/2 c. very cold water

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl of a food processor, pulse flour, sugar and salt together a few times to mix thoroughly.
  2. Add the butter into the food processor and pulse until butter becomes the size of peas (or smaller).
  3. Add the cold water and pulse until dough starts to come together.
  4. Divide the dough into 2 pieces and wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. While the dough is chilling, make the blueberry filling.

For the Blueberry Filling:

Ingredients:
1 ½ c. of blueberries*, divided
¼ c. sugar
1 tbsp. cornstarch
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. lemon juice

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, combine 1 cup of blueberries with ¼ cup of sugar.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until all the berries burst and sugar is completely melted; about 5 minutes. The mixture should look very liquid.
  3. In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water until it becomes a slurry.
  4. Add to the blueberry mixture and cook until it becomes thick. It will become almost paste-like.
  5. Transfer blueberry mix to a bowl and rest of the blueberries and lemon juice.
  6. Add more lemon juice if needed.

 Assembly:

If the dough starts to become sticky or warm at any point, place into the freezer to firm up for 3-5 minutes before working on it again.  This is very important, since the cold butter is what gives you the flaky layers.

Ingredients:

1 Egg, beaten (for egg wash)
Sanding sugar or raw sugar (optional)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. Take out half of the prepared pie dough and roll out until ¼- ⅛ inch thick on a floured surface.
  4. Cut out pie rounds with a 2 ½ inch round cookie cutter**.
  5. Reserve half of the pie rounds and cut the rest into 4 strips with a fluted pastry wheel or a pizza cutter (a knife will do too).
  6. Place a teaspoon of blueberry filling in the center of the reserved pie rounds and place strips of cut pie dough on top. (As shown in above photo.)
  7. Crimp edges with a fork to seal the two pieces of dough together. (As shown in above photo.)
  8. Fold the crimped edges together to form a seal for the pie filling. (As shown in above photo.)
  9. Brush with egg wash with a pastry brush and sprinkle sanding / raw sugar. (As shown in above photo.)
  10. Place into the freezer for 5 minutes to chill before baking.
  11. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes until golden brown.
  12. While the first batch is chilling and baking, start working on the second batch with the other half of your prepared pastry dough.
  13. Cool for 5-10 minutes before consuming.

* I used frozen wild Maine blueberries.  They are a lot smaller than your average supermarket blueberries which make them ideal for this filling.  If you can find them, use them instead of regular blueberries. They also taste more blueberry-y than regular blueberries (if that makes sense).

** If you cannot find a 2 ½ round cookie cutter or you do not own one, feel free to use a cut out can as your cookie cutter. It works similarly, except you might not get as clean of an edge when you cut out your dough.

Bunny Cake Pops

IMG_2651

When I came across a package of edible grass at Target, a passage from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” by Roald Dahl was the first thing that came into my mind:

“The grass you’re standing on, my dear little ones, is made of a new kind of soft, minty sugar that I’ve just invented! I call it swudge! Try a blade! Please do! It’s delectable!

Automatically, everybody bent down and picked one blade of grass – everybody, that is, except Augustus Gloop, who took a big handful.”

Filled with nostalgia from my childhood obsession with the wonderful world of Willy Wonka, I immediately grabbed two bags and tossed it into my basket.  From there, it promptly sat on my counter waiting to be used for something scrumdiddlyumptious.

IMG_2644

This is what I have for you. It’s perfect for Easter*, spring and bunny themed parties. I hope you give it a try and wait for the squeals of “It’s so cute!” to follow you for the rest of the day.

IMG_2666

Bunny Cake Pops

You will need:

1 Batch of Cake (whatever flavor you prefer, you may use 1 box cake mix if pressed for time)
1 Batch of Frosting (whatever flavor you prefer, you can use 1 can frosting if pressed for time)
1 Bag of White Candy Melts
Mini Marshmallows
Edible Grass
Heart Shaped Sprinkles
Black Edible Sugar Pearls
Light Pink Sanding Sugar
Lollipop sticks or Striped Party Paper Straws

Instructions:

1.  Crumble up cooled cake until you have very fine cake crumbs.

2.   Add half of the frosting to the cake and mix until it is evenly distributed.  If you can mold the cake into a firm stable ball at this point, stop.  If not, add the rest of the frosting ¼ at a time until you are able to shape it.

3.  Scoop tablespoon sized balls of the cake mixture and shape into an oval (approximately the size and shape of a piece of sushi rice ball).

4.  Chill cake balls in the freezer until firm (this could take anywhere from 15-30 minutes)**

5.  While the cake is chilling:

a. Cut the mini marshmallows vertically, and dip into sanding sugar for the ears.

b. Cut more mini marshmallows horizontally for the tails.

c. Cut edible grass into desired size.

d. Melt the chocolate wafers in the microwave until completely smooth.

6.  Remove the cake balls from the freezer and dip your stick (or straw) into a little chocolate and insert it into the top middle of the cake ball. Place back into the freezer for 5-10 mins until the chocolate has set.

7.  Line a sheet with parchment paper and place tufts of edible grass where your coated cake ball will land.

8.  Once the chocolate has set, take the stick and submerge the cake ball into the melted chocolate and gently tap the excess chocolate off.  Place on the edible grass.

9. Quickly, before the chocolate sets, place the tail on one end and the ears on the opposite end.  Place two black pearls for the eyes and a heart shaped sprinkle for the nose.  You can use a (clean) tweezer to facilitate the placement of the eyes and nose.

10. Let the chocolate set at room temp, or if you’re in a hurry you can place it in the freezer to set it.


*I am aware that bunnies have nothing to do with the meaning of Easter.
**Be careful when chilling the cake balls.  If the cake balls are too cold, it will crack your chocolate when it comes to room temperature.