Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Grilled Cheeses of Doom

I can no longer justify a grilled cheese made on sliced bread with American cheese, which I used to consider being the only way to make one or eat it.

These days, it absolutely has to be on sourdough bread. It absolutely needs to have unsliced cheese (until you're ready) and if possible, at least two kinds of cheese.

And then a shake of Italian seasoning and a shake of chili powder. REALLY. Do it.

I read about this somewhere several months ago and started making them this way. It is SO GOOD and SO NECESSARY. Never eat the white bread-plastic wrapped cheese-kind again.

But, oops. I forgot a photo. Next time! :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Red Velvet Cherry Cupcakes

I generally greatly dislike red velvet and definitely do not understand the fascination with them. Super red flavored cupcakes? Why not blue? Or purple? Plus, I'm pretty sure that the distinct taste of these are because they contain lethal amounts of red food dye.

BUT, I love my friends who requested them and therefore searched for a recipe that I could use. My #1 favorite, Neverbashfulwithbutter has a red velvet cherry recipe that sounded just about right. I took it and altered it a bit for myself as I usually do.. and it came out edible AND good. The cherry flavoring balanced out the weird sour taste of the red velvet, so they were not too weird and not too sweet.

Red Velvet Cherry Cupcakes
(Adapted from Neverbashfulwithbutter's recipe)

1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon red food coloring paste
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cherry extract (I used 1/4 cherry candy flavoring)
1 tablespoon maraschino cherry juice
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350.

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Mix in one egg at a time, mixing well after each egg. Add red food paste and cocoa, beating on low until mixed well.

Sift together the flours, salt, and baking soda and set aside. Stir buttermilk, cherry juice, cherry flavoring and almond extract together in a separate bowl. Alternate dry and wet mixtures into the sugar mixture, until blended on low. Mix just until blended. Add sour cream and beat on low until combined.

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full and bake for 18-20 minutes or until the cupcakes done (my oven is often weird). Finish on cooling racks.

This recipe made 30 cupcakes for me, I topped them with pink cream cheese frosting, a pinch of pearl dust and nonpareils.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 stick softened butter
8 oz cream cheese, softened
4-5 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup of milk (I like heavy cream, myself)
1/4 teaspoon pink food coloring paste

Mix butter and cream cheese until blended with a hand or stand mixer. Slowly add in 1 cup of powdered sugar, slowly. Once it's combined, add a tablespoon or two of milk. Add powdered sugar 1-2 cups at a time, until blended. Add a tablespoon of milk at a time to reduce the thickness of the frosting. Add 1/4 teaspoon of pink food coloring paste, blending until completely mixed in. Apply as desired.


Monday, December 1, 2008

Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

I had an inspiration to make chocolate peppermint cupcakes, but not just any! I wanted them to be different.

So I took a vegan recipe, de-veganized it, and added my own twist! They came out really yummy! If you want to keep them vegan, just use soy milk instead of regular milk. Otherwise, it's pretty much the same.

Chocolate Cupcakes

2 cups milk
2 teaspoons vinegar
1.5 cups granulated sugar
2/3 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cake flour (it really matters, it does)
2/3 cup cocoa powder; dutch processed is preferred
1.5 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350. Line cupcake tins.

Combine milk and vinegar and let sit to curdle. Combine sugar, oil and vanilla and let mix. Add milk mixture and beat until foamy. In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add slowly to the wet mixture, beating only until combined.

Pour into cupcake liners, about 2/3 of the way. Bake 15 minutes or so. I made mini cupcakes and it really did take that long. Larger cupcakes may take 18-20 minutes, but I'd keep an eye on them. My oven is actually pretty evil.

Let cool.

Peppermint Candy Ganache

Unwrap all the candies in a bag of candy cane flavored kisses. Melt them slowly over a double boiler, or just really slowly without double boiling. Once they are melted, spoon the candy over the top of the cupcakes as a ganache. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of crushed peppermint candy.

Let the candy cool. Done! Yay!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Making Your Own Pumpkin - Overachiever's Pumpkin Pie

Or "How to Risk Stabbing Yourself".

WOW, cutting pie pumpkins is way harder than I thought. Seriously. The whole time I was envisioning how it would feel to stab myself with the big ass knife I was using.

Anyway! Pumpkins are cut up, scooped out and in the oven.

Recipe for making your own pumpkin:
  1. Cut up the top off the pumpkins, halve them.
  2. Do not stab yourself. This is harder than you think.
  3. Scoop out the guts and seeds.
  4. Keep the seeds for further roasting.
  5. Cut the pumpkins into fourths or eighths.
  6. Do not stab yourself.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
  8. Cool.
  9. Scoop out the pumpkin. Throw away the skin.
  10. Blend, food process, mash.. whatever works best for you.
  11. If it's too watery, strain it.
  12. If it's too dry, put water in it.
  13. Tada!
Well, since I do not currently own a fancy Cuisinart, I used the blender. It did need some water, but it did not come out overly watery. It was in fact, perfect. I loved the richer flavor of the pumpkin. Would totally do it again.

Note to self: Get a bigger, safer knife. Possibly some body armor.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Brownie Cookies

While looking for something to bake today with minor effort, I came across these Brownie Cookies by SmittenKitchen. They were easy, fast, and because I own tiny little cookie cutters they were tiny.

I'm always bummed out when I'm surprised halfway through a recipe that says "refrigerate for one hour." SIGH. I'm not a patient baker. I let them sit for 40 minutes and they rolled out great. Not too sweet cookies either.

Also, today I put together a sourdough starter! We'll see how it goes. I'm letting it brew on top of the cable box since the kitchen tends to be so cold at night. I'm pretty excited! I don't think I've ever really made bread before.

Also - I'm looking for recipes for excellent but sturdy treats to send to people for xmas. Cookies, homemade sauces, etc. Stuff that's fun to make and give away - way more personal than a Starbucks gift box or something.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

First Post!

Well, I finally decided it made sense to get my own fancy-schmancy blogspot so I could post my cupcakes to the *world*. I've been officially baking since last December where I discovered that with a little cake flour, fine sugar, and complete lack of cake mix - I could actually not only bake but I was GOOD at it.

Congrats to me! I've also had a few cool features on Cupcakes Take the Cake where my Flickr Cupcake Photos have been highlighted. I'm also a huge fan of Tastespotting, where I realized if I had my own Blogspot.. I could be featured as well.

A natural progession into baking was my food photography skills. I've seen some bad, bad food photography, so I've worked at making sure mine was not only good food photography but was also art.

I live in Portland, Oregon with my boyfriend and our collection of five children, two cats, two guinea pigs, two rats, and a betta fish named "Flame."