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Mini Chocolate Cupcakes

This mini had a caramel butter cream frosting. I thought the caramel flavour was overwhelming though.

Adapted from: Libbie’s Chocolate Cupcake recipe.

I have a very hard time following recipes. No matter how much I tell myself that I will, I don’t.  I very rarely (VERY RARELY) make the same recipe twice.  Maybe I have a bit of baking ADD or something.  This recipe was no different. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. I just couldn’t.  Luckily, they turned out really well. I mean, really well. They were moist, the chocolate flavour wasn’t overwhelming (I don’t like overly chocolatey things), and it wasn’t too sweet.  I’ve made this recipe 3 times this month!

The original recipe is worth trying though. The original is less moist, but it’s still amazing.

I used a strawberry frosting I got from my friend Leah Kelly.  Her website is called White Box Cupcakes.  I’m not sure if the frosting recipe is on her site because I asked her for a frosting recipe and she emailed me the one below.

Strawberry butter cream frosting.

Vanilla bean butter cream frosting.

Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 70g white sugar/70g splenda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 60ml 35% cream
  • 60 ml 2% milk
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 vanilla bean

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
  2. Put sugar and vanilla bean seeds in a stand up mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix until the vanilla seeds are distributed throughout the sugar.
  3. Put flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and butter in the mixer. Mix together until you have a sandy consistency.
  4. Whisk milk, cream, yogurt and egg  in a jug. Slowly pour half into the mixture, beat to combine and then turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps.
  5. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and pour in the remaining mixture. Continue to mix for a couple of turns. Do not over mix.
  6. Spoon mixture into the 12 cases and cook for 20 mins or until your cake tester (aka a toothpick) comes out clean.

Strawberry Butter-cream Frosting:

(I couldn’t stick to the original recipe here either…)
Ingredients:
  • 2 sticks (1/2 cup) of butter, at room temperature
  • 3 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 a vanilla bean
  • 1/4  cup fresh very ripe strawberries

NOTE: The original used a 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, had 1/4- 1/2 chopped strawberries and said to press with paper towel to remove moisture, and had 1/2 tsp milk. I kept the strawberry juice and omitted the milk. For the vanilla bean frosting, omit the strawberry, add 1/2 tsp milk or more depending on the consistency you want.

Method:

1. Cream butter until smooth and fluffy.

2. Add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time with the mixer on low so you don’t get a lot of powdered sugar dust spewing up in your face.  If you have a large stand up mixer, then you can add larger amounts of powdered sugar.

3. Add in vanilla extract, vanilla bean paste, or vanilla bean seeds that you scraped from the vanilla bean.

4. Add 1/4 cup of the berries and turn the mixer on high, scraping down the sides as you go.

5. Add as much confectioner’s sugar as needed to achieve your desired consistency.

This frosting tasted a LOT better after I refrigerated it overnight.  It tasted almost like strawberry ice cream. I had to tell myself not to eat it off a spoon because, after all, it’s whipped butter with sugar, and I prefer to save my calories for bacon.

You can either use the frosting right away, keep it in the fridge, or freeze it. When you want to use it again, take it out of the fridge and beat it with an electric mixer until fluffy. If you take it out of the freezer, defrost in the fridge and then follow the above instructions.

Vanilla bean and strawberry butter cream frosting in disposable piping bags. I love my disposable piping bags!!

The strawberry butter cream was paired with the chocolate cupcakes, and the vanilla bean frosting went with a coffee cupcake.

CLOSE UP

Close up. The letters were from sugar sheets, bought at Walmart.

YUM 🙂

Cordobes Criollitos

My husband has been talking about these “snacks” since … forever.  He finally found me a recipe for the Criollitos here (beware, the link is in Spanish) and so I decided to make them.  I didn’t like the ones I tried while I was in Argentina, but these ones were tweaked a bit for my taste.  They’re freaking delicious.

FOR THE DOUGH

3 tsp dry active yeast (The original recipe called for 25 g of fresh yeast.)

300 ml warm water

1 teaspoon malt extract or sugar

500 g all purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt (The recipe called for 15 grams of salt (half teaspoon).  This was WAY too little. Next time I’m going to add 2tsp of salt)

For filling

160 grams of room temperature but not super soft butter

(I made this recipe on a day that was 35C outside and the butter hated me. I had to refrigerate it until it was pliable but neither hard nor soft)

50 g of all purpose flour

1.5 cups grated parmesean cheese

Instructions

1.  Dissolve yeast in warm water and sugar.

2. While you’re waiting for the yeast mixture to froth, mix all of the filling ingredients together in a separate bowl.

2. When the yeast is bubbly (around 3-5 min depending on the temperature of your house), pour it into a stand up mixer.  You can do all of this in a mixing bowl and mix everything by hand. I’m too lazy to knead my own dough.

Then add the flour and salt and mix until the dough is combined into a soft mass. Knead the dough for about 3 minutes, or until it feels cohesive, but not sticky.

3.  Cover with plastic wrap and rest in the refrigerator for 40 minutes.

4. Roll dough into a  1 inch thick rectangle.

5. Place the filling on half of the rectangle and leave a 1 inch boarder around the edges. Fold the dough in half so the filling in sandwiched between the two layers.  Roll the dough to 1/2 inch, then refrigerate for 1/2 hr.

6. Take out the mass and fold into 3 sections ( like how you would fold a letter or a bath towel), roll to 1/2 inch.  If the mass is too soft (as it was for me in the 35C weather), stick it back in the fridge for a 1/2 hr.  Otherwise, fold it in 3 again, and roll it out again.  It is these steps which are creating the layers. Stick it in the fridge for a 1/2 hr.

7. Take the mass out of the fridge and fold it into 3 sections again. Roll it to a 1/2 inch and then fork it all over. Then cut out the shapes you want, and let rest to rise for about 1 hr or until the Criollitos are about double their height. YES, that’s right!! You won’t have to stick it in the damn fridge but you have to let it sit out for an hour!  Do not skip this step.

Waiting to be cut up.

These haven’t risen yet.

I got bored with squares, rectangles and triangles 🙂

8. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 min.

You tired yet? It took me the whole afternoon to make these damn things, but they were worth it. I’m going to make them again next month 🙂  The recipe makes a lot of Criollitos so I stuck a whole bunch in the freezer and we snacked on the rest. You can take them out the freezer and stick them in a 400 degree oven until they’re warm and crispy, about 5 min. I think. I haven’t tried it yet.  When I do, I’ll edit this section.  Enjoy!

I loved this pasta dough. There really isn’t anything as good as fresh pasta, but I hardly have time to pee these days, let alone make fresh pasta! Both kids napped AT THE SAME TIME for 45 straight minutes! And so, I adapted this recipe from  Mario Batali’s Basic Pasta Dough. Ingredients

  1. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  2. 1 1/2 cups whole wheat*
  3. 1/2 cup ground ground flax *
  4. 4 large eggs
  5. 1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
*Mario Batali used all purpose flour. I found that I had about a 1/2 cup of flour left over so next time I’m going to reduce the all purpose flour by 1/2 cup entire batch by 1/2 cup.
Mound 3 1/2 cups of the flours in the center of a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle of the flour and add the eggs and olive oil. Using a fork, beat together the eggs and oil and begin to incorporate the flour, starting with the inner rim of the well.(As you expand the well, make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl because I was left with crusty hard flour/egg chunks that wouldn’t incorporate into the mixture.

The dough will come together when half of the flour is incorporated. At this point, start kneading the dough with both hands, using the palms of your hands.
Once there is a cohesive mass, remove the dough from the board and scrape up and discard any leftover bits. Lightly reflour the board and continue kneading for 6 more minutes. The dough should be elastic and a little sticky.

Wrap the dough in plastic and allow to rest for 30 minutes at room temperature.
Roll or shape as desired. I made short, flat strips. I stuck them in boiling salted water, and they cooked up in 3 minutes. YUM.

There’s not much to be said about this one. I have too much mint in our garden, I love bacon, and my daughter wont fight me when I place asparagus in front of her…so naturally, I made these bacon and mint wrapped asparagus!

Ingredients:

bacon

asparagus

large mint leaves

I’m not putting in amounts here because they’ll depend on the amount of asparagus you have.

If you have 10 asparagus, you’ll need 5 slices of bacon (and then you’ll cut those slices in half) and 10 pieces of mint. Cradle the asparagus in the mint leaf, then wrap them together with the bacon.

Sprinkle salt/pepper to taste, stick them on a baking sheet lined with tin foil, and bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 – 20 minutes. Take out of oven, place asparagus on paper towels to drain fat.  YUM.

Sunny Side Up Egg

It never occured to me that someone might not know how to make a  sunny side up egg until my sister and her husband had this “discussion” in my kitchen.

Sister:  “You make your eggs too rubbery.”

Sister husband:  “You use too much oil and deep fry your egg.”

As a disclaimer, I have to say that I understand that sunny side up eggs generally are yellow and are not cooked on top, but I don’t consider this egg “over easy” because I don’t flip it and the cooked layer on top still has some of that gooey goodness of the sunny side up egg.  So, for all of you egg deep friers, and all of you rubbery egg makers, here’s how I make my sunny side up eggs.

Ingredients

An egg 😛

1 tbsp of oil

4 tbsp of water (roughly)

soy sauce to taste (or salt if that’s what floats your boat)

Directions

1.  Get out your non-stick shallow frying pan.

2. Turn up the heat to medium low. I can’t stress enough how important it is to cook your eggs on medium low heat. High heat will make your eggs get that disgusting plastic like, brown edge that’s almost inedible.

3. Add your oil.

4. When the oil is hot, add your egg.  See how the edges are slowly cooking towards the center instead of bubbling like a crazy egg?

5. When the egg has somewhat stabilized add your water.

6. Then quickly covered it up with a lid to steam!  Can you see the steaming? I wish I had a better camera sometimes, or maybe someone who could take the pictures as I’m cooking. It sucks to be constantly picking up the camera at every freaking step. Anyway.

7.  Watch your egg because the top of the yolk will steam white pretty quickly.  Then voila! (I don’t know how to do accents off hand on my keyboard, so I just won’t.) You have a perfectly soft, delicately scrumptious, oozy gooey, sunny side up egg.

I like my eggs with soy sauce. I’ve seen people eat them with ketchup or salt, but I’ve never gotten into it. Nope, soy sauce it is for me, and soy sauce it’ll always be.

NOTE: I broke the steps up like crazy. This isn’t hard or complicated. The entire process takes about 3 minutes including taking the pictures and heating the pan:)

Cheers,

Cheryl

Phewf, now that title sure was a mouthful!  But then, so are these bits of deliciousness, and this huge ass recipe for that matter.  Read the whole recipe before you begin because it’s LONG. I made these cookies in three parts over three days since I have a baby and a toddler at home, which means I can only bake for about 1 hour at a time including prep and clean up.

Day 1 was making the cookie dough. (10 minutes)

Day 2 was rolling out the cookie dough, baking it, making the marshmallow, piping it out, and leaving it to set. (1 hr)

Day 3 was dipping the cookies in chocolate. (20 minutes)

I stole this recipe from the Food Network by Gale Gand and tweeked it a bit. I mean a LITTLE bit. The recipe is pretty good as it is, but I have a really hard time keeping to recipes!

Cookie-Ingredients

3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch baking soda1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon12 tablespoons butter
3 eggs, whisked together
Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
1 cup melted Chocolate  or 2 cups chocolate chips

*1/2 cup icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar) for dusting.

Cookie-Directions

Blend the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon  in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.

Add the butter and mix on low speed until it looks like sand or cornmeal-ish texture.

Add the whisked eggs and mix to combine. I kept mixing the dough in my mixer and it didn’t come together. So I dumped it all out on my counter and kneaded it a bit until it came together. It took about 3 minutes.

Form the dough into a disk, wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days. I had way too much dough because I made my cookies small (about 2 cm diameter, 1/8 inch thick), so I used 3/4 of the dough and threw the rest into the freezer.

When ready to bake,  line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

*On a lightly “floured” (remember to use the icing sugar here!) surface, roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Use a cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough, 1 to 1 1/2 inches. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake until light golden brown, about 10 minutes. Let cool to room temperature. Watch your first batch. My oven runs hot so I only had to bake the cookies for 8 minutes. 9 minutes made them too crispy, and 10 minutes burned them.

Pipe  marshmallow onto each cookie and cover with another cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours. My husband and my little girl ate one right away. Soft gooey marshmallow on a cookie is delicious!

Excuse the messy house in the background! I'd like to give some excuse for how messy we are, but I have none.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat. I covered a portion of my counter with saran wrap instead. Make sure not to leave any wrinkles in the saran wrap! My counter is granite or marble, I can never remember, so saran wrap sticks to it like glue.

One at a time, gently lower the  cookies into the warm chocolate. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

My girl being very happy to get her cookie 🙂

Can you see the saran wrap??

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Marshmallow – Ingredients

1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water

Combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar in a saucepan, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, or have one that doesn’t measure heat well like I do, then get a spoon and drip a small bit into a very cold glass of water. If drip forms a ball  that is squishy (that’s a technical term) when you..uh..squish it, then you’re at the soft ball stage.


Meanwhile, sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water, stir it, and let dissolve.
Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
Add the orange blossom water and continue whipping until stiff. Don’t worry, the mixture WILL stiffen up. Just keep your mixer cranked on high until it does.

Transfer to a pastry bag and pipe onto cookies. It’s easier to get the soft marshmallow in the bag if you stick the bag in a cup or something to hold it up.

I had extra marshmallow left over so I made letters for our names. I love piping!

Chocolate coating – Ingredients

2 cups milk chocolate chips

Chocolate coating – Directions

Put the chocolate chips in a microwavable bowl and microwave for 40 seconds, then stir.

Repeat the micorwaveing step in 10 second increments until you get your desired consistency.

NOTE: some people add butter or oil to the mixture in order to thin out the chocolate mixture but I didn’t. I wanted a thick coating on my cookies.

Enjoy!!

Cheryl

Christmas Stollen

Christmas Stollen

Thanks to Penny from Sweet Sadie’s Baking for giving us this challenge!!  I’m not a huge fan of fruitcakes but this one wasn’t so bad.

Ingredients: (adapted from Penny’s Stollen Wreath recipe.)

¼ cup (60ml) lukewarm water (110º F / 43º C)
2 packages (4 1/2 teaspoons) (22 ml) (14 grams) (1/2 oz) active dry yeast
1 cup (240 ml) milk
10 tablespoons (150 ml) (140 grams) unsalted butter (can use salted butter)
5½ cups (1320 ml) (27 ozs) (770 grams) all-purpose (plain) flour (Measure flour first – then sift- plus extra for dusting)
½ cup (120 ml) (115 gms) sugar
1/2 teaspoon (3 ¾ ml) (4 ½ grams) salt (if using salted butter there is no need to alter this salt measurement)
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (6 grams) cinnamon
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
Grated zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange
2 teaspoons (10 ml) (very good) vanilla extract
3 Tbsp orange/lemon juice
1 1/2 cup mixed dried fruit
1/2 cup  firmly packed raisins
2 tablespoons rum
1 cup (240 ml) (3 ½ ozs) (100 grams) walnuts
Melted unsalted butter for coating the wreath
Confectioners’ (icing) (powdered) sugar for dusting wreath

Note: If you don’t want to use alcohol, double the lemon or orange extract or you could use the juice from the zested orange.

Directions:

Soak the raisins
In a small bowl, soak the dried fruit in the rum/orange/lemon juice mixture and set aside.

To make the dough

Pour ¼ cup (60 ml) warm water into a small bowl, sprinkle with yeast and let stand 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast completely.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 cup (240 ml) milk and 10 tablespoons (150 ml) butter over medium – low heat until butter is melted. Let stand until lukewarm, about 5 minutes.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl and add lemon and vanilla extracts.

In a large mixing bowl (4 qt) (4 liters) (or in the bowl of an electric mixer with paddle attachment), stir together the flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, orange and lemon zests.

Then stir in (or mix on low speed with the paddle attachment) the yeast/water mixture, eggs and the lukewarm milk/butter mixture. This should take about 2 minutes. It should be a soft, but not sticky ball. When the dough comes together, cover the bowl with either plastic or a tea cloth and let rest for 10 minutes.

Add in the mixed peel, soaked fruit and almonds and mix with your hands or on low speed to incorporate. Here is where you can add the cherries if you would like. Be delicate with the cherries or all your dough will turn red!

Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing with the dough hook) to distribute the fruit evenly, adding additional flour if needed. The dough should be soft and satiny, tacky but not sticky. Knead for approximately 8 minutes (6 minutes by machine). The full six minutes of kneading is needed to distribute the dried fruit and other ingredients and to make the dough have a reasonable bread-dough consistency. You can tell when the dough is kneaded enough – a few raisins will start to fall off the dough onto the counter because at the beginning of the kneading process the dough is very sticky and the raisins will be held into the dough but when the dough is done it is tacky which isn’t enough to bind the outside raisins onto the dough ball.

Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling around to coat it with the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
Put it in the fridge overnight. The dough becomes very firm in the fridge (since the butter goes firm) but it does rise slowly… the raw dough can be kept in the refrigerator up to a week and then baked on the day you want.

Shaping the Dough and Baking the Wreath

1. Let the dough rest for 2 hours after taking out of the fridge in order to warm slightly.
2. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
3. Preheat oven to moderate 350°F/180°C/gas mark 4 with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
4. Punch dough down, roll into a rectangle about 16 x 24 inches (40 x 61 cms) and ¼ inch (6 mm) thick.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Starting with a long side, roll up tightly, forming a long, thin cylinder.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Transfer the cylinder roll to the sheet pan. Join the ends together, trying to overlap the layers to make the seam stronger and pinch with your fingers to make it stick, forming a large circle. You can form it around a bowl to keep the shape.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

This was before I pinched it together

Using kitchen scissors, make cuts along outside of circle, in 2-inch (5 cm) intervals, cutting 2/3 of the way through the dough.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Twist each segment outward, forming a wreath shape. Mist the dough with spray oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap.

Daring Baker's  Stollen

Proof for approximately 2 hours at room temperature, or until about 1½ times its original size.
Bake the stollen for 20 minutes, then rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking and continue to bake for 20 to 30 minutes. The bread will bake to a dark mahogany color, should register 190°F/88°C in the center of the loaf, and should sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.

Transfer to a cooling rack and brush the top with melted butter while still hot.
Immediately tap a layer of powdered sugar over the top through a sieve or sifter.
Wait for 1 minute, then tap another layer over the first.
The bread should be coated generously with the powdered sugar.
Let cool at least an hour before serving. Coat the stollen in butter and icing sugar three times, since this many coatings helps keeps the stollen fresh – especially if you intend on sending it in the mail as Christmas presents!

When completely cool, store in a plastic bag. Or leave it out uncovered overnight to dry out slightly, German style.


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