Friday, May 28, 2010

Peppermint Frosted Brownies

Need a chocolate fix fast? I mean...CHOCOLATE. Like the kind of fix that will put you in a sugar induced coma for a few hours? Oh, that's what you need? Make these!

These were super duper rich. I added the peppermint buttercream just because I had a craving for it. I made regular buttercream and flavored it with peppermint and added some red food coloring. Easy as can be!

The recipe for the brownies is also really easy. They come together very quick. My main tip for these...make sure you bake them long enough. Mine were too gooey in the middle.

Chocolate Brownies
Source: Food Network
Yield: 1-2 dozen depending on how big you cut them.

2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 t. salt
3 eggs
1 cup cocoa
1 cup flour

Set oven to 350. Grease a 9x9 pan.

Combine sugar, butter, salt. Whisk in eggs. Stir in cocoa and flour. Transfer to pan bake 30 min.

Easy peasy.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream

I've been learning a lot about buttercreams. I always thought buttercream was just your simple icing of powdered sugar, butter, milk or cream, and vanilla. Which is great. But I learned today that there are French buttercreams (made by pouring a sugary syrup at softball stage over egg yolks), there are Italian or Swiss buttercreams (similar to the French but using egg whites) and even German buttercreams which use pastry cream.

I've made a faux Swiss buttercream and last year for my birthday I made a real Swiss buttercream. This week I made a lemon Swiss buttercream and it is amazing.

I've had lemon cupcakes on my list of things to make for about six months. Finally I decided I was going to make a batch. The cake part has a fantastic crumb. Light, lemony, perfect. Then I made the frosting. It seemed not as hard as it did the first I made Swiss buttercream. It is a little scary after you add the butter to the meringue and it looks like a mess. It gets better. I swear. Give it time. Let it do its thing.

I didn't have lemon extract in the house so I used fresh lemon juice in both the cupcakes and the frosting. Worked out just fine. Be sure to use the lemon zest because it adds quite a bit of the lemon flavor.

Have fun with these!!

Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Buttercream
Yield: One dozen

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
¼ tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
zest of 2 lemons
2 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine butter, sugar, and lemon zest in large mixing bowl. Using an electric mixer beat on medium-high speed until the mixture is fluffy and much lighter in color. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. In a third, small bowl, combine the buttermilk and lemon extract.
Add the eggs one at a time to the mixer, making sure to fully incorporate the first egg before adding the second. Alternate adding the flour mixture and buttermilk in the following order: add 1/3 of the dry ingredients, 1/2 of the wet, another third of the dry, the rest of the wet, and the rest of the dry. Mix until just combined and finish with a spatula.
Bake in the top third of the oven for about 20 minutes or until the tops are slightly golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Let cool completely before topping with the lemon buttercream.

Lemon Buttercream Frosting
7 egg whites
Pinch cream of tartar
2 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
½ c. water
1 lb. unsalted butter at room temperature
2 tsp. lemon extract
Yellow food coloring (optional)

Place egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low speed. Add sugar, corn syrup, and water to a pot and swirl or mix with a spoon so that the sugar has the consistency of wet sand and all of the granules are moistened.
Cook the sugar on high to 235F. At this stage, which candymakers call the soft ball stage, most of the moisture gets cooked out of the sugar. Immediately add the cooked sugar to the egg whites, which should be foamy at this point. Turn the mixer speed to high and whip the meringue to a medium peak. Add the butter in small clumps (about 1½” cubes) and whip until the mixture becomes light and fluffy, and holds together. Add the lemon extract and food coloring if using and whip to combine.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk

I like to say thank you with a sweet treat. A friend of mine recently did me a favor and to say thank you I gave her a plate of these delightful little cookies.

These cookies are awesome for a variety of reasons.

1. They come together super quickly.
2. The texture is fantastic. Nice and soft.
3. A perfect balance of peanut butter and chocolate
4. They are the perfect size.

And they come from Martha Stewart so you know they are good. Right??!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Source: Martha Stewart
Yield: 3 dozen

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup peanut butter
4 tablespoons ( 1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into chunks

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat peanut butter, butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until smooth. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in chocolate chunks.

Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 1 inch apart, onto two large baking sheets. Bake until golden, 13 to 15 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sweet Cheeks Guac

This is my own version of guacamole. It is chunky, flavorful, and versatile. I like to scoop it with chips but I also like to put it on my veggie burger. It is great in a burrito and the last time I served it I used it as a side with chips next to Cajun shrimp.

You can make this to your liking. My sister likes hers extra limey. I like mine with extra cumin. You could also had some hot sauce or chopped jalapeno for a bit of heat. I'm guessing on the measurements for the recipe below. I usually eyeball it and taste here and there. I'll do my best!

Sweet Cheeks Guac
Source: ME!
Yield: 2 servings

1 ripe avocado
1/4 cup diced red onion
1 plum tomato, chopped
2 T olive oil
Juice of half a lime
4-5 shakes cumin
5 sprigs cilantro, torn

Cube the avocado and mash slightly leaving large chunks. Add the onion and chopped tomato. Drizzle with olive oil and lime juice. Stir. Add cumin and salt. Add cilantro last so it is nice and fresh.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Humming Bakery Vanilla Cupcakes

I do enjoy all the new concoctions of flavored cupcakes going around. However, you'll find that I mostly stick with the basics. I suppose the pink lemonade cupcakes were a bit wild for me. To me, the simplicity of a vanilla cupcake with vanilla icing is perfection.

The recipe for these cupcakes came from Joy the Baker who posted the recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. I adore these sweet little cupcakes. They were a cinch to make and oh so delicious.

Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Icing
Source: Joy the Baker and Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook
Yield: 1 dozen cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 cup sugar
1 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
pinch of salt
3 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup milk
1 egg
1/2 t vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter in a large bowl. Using a hand held mixer beat on a slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth. For just a few minutes. Don’t bother overmixing.

Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins, dividing evenly between 12 cups. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating half way through or until lightly golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan, then cool on a wire rack completely before frosting.

Vanilla Buttercream

2 cups powdered sugar
5 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 T milk
1/4 t vanilla extract

Beat the powdered sugar together in a medium sized bowl with an electric mixer on medium low speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. Turn the mixer to low. Combine milk and the vanilla extract and slowly stream it into the butter and sugar mixture. Once incorporated, turn the mixer to high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes. The longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. When you reach the desired consistency, frost the cooled cupcakes.