Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cupcake Hero: Cocoa Cupcakes with Mint Buttercream


Who doesn't love Andes mints? This Cupcake Hero entry is like an Andes mint in cupcake form. I have been dying to make mint chocolate cupcakes for a while now. This challenge was the perfect opportunity because we get to pick two of the past ingredients. I chose mint and cocoa.


The mint buttercream is a tweaked version of Chocklit's mint buttercream frosting. The cocoa cupcakes are my favorite tried and true Paula Dean's recipe- the Dreamy Chocolate Mousse cake...well, minus the mousse. You just really can't go wrong with this cake recipe. It's easy and not too sweet. My kind of cake.

Top these bad boys off with an Andes mint and mmm mmm mmm. Derrick doesn't care for mint chocolate anything and I had a hard time keeping his paws off. He said, "Yes, um, (mouth full of icing) I would like these again." Two thumbs up from us!

Oh and before I let the cupcakes cool, I placed andes mint chips on top of the warm cupcakes and let them melt. I spread the melted mint chips over the cupcake top, making a ganache of sorts. Once the cupcakes were cool, I piped the icing on top. So yummy!

Dreamy Chocolate Mousse Cake (minus the mousse and icing) slightly adapted from Paula Dean's recipe Ingredients:
2 cups flour

2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa

1.5 teaspoons baking soda

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk

1 cup strong brewed coffee

3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350.
Mix dry ingredients in with paddle attachment.
Add wet ingredients.
Pour into cupcake liners.
Bake 15-18 minutes or until cupcakes pass toothpick test.
Allow to cool.

Mint Buttercream Frosting slightly adapted from Chocklit's recipe Ingredients:
2 sticks butter, softened
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/8 tsp. peppermint extract
1/8 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
Beat butter in bowl until creamy, scrape bowl.
Add 4 cups of sugar, milk and both extracts.
Add additional sugar until piping consistency is reached.
Pipe onto cooled cupcakes.
Garnish with Andes mints.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vanilla Cupcakes with Swiss Meringue Buttercream, Chicken and Dumplings and Evacuees


For the past 10 days, we have had a full house. Hurricane Ike struck Galveston and Houston with a vengeance, leaving all of my family without power. We opened our home to them if they would like to get away from "roughing it" in order to enjoy the comforts and luxuries of the things we take for granted every day.


My cousin, Jamie, her 2 small boys, Tanner and Haiden, and my grandmother, Mema, jumped at the offer to come here seeking air conditioning, TV, refrigeration, ceiling fans, and a washing machine. I spend lots of time with Jamie and her boys, but I have never spent 10 consecutive days with them. WOW! Little boys have lots more energy than me...and I have
lots of energy!

Yes, I am riding a very tiny bike.
We had to come up with all sorts of things to keep them busy. We played hide and seek, soccer, t-ball, and in sprinklers on a misty day. We colored, made drums from old boxes, watched movies, ate popcorn, made breakfast for dinner, watered plants, and dressed up in Halloween costumes bought way too early at Target. We rode bikes, played "go-fish" and memory, took Boomer to the groomer, had time outs (cause all little boys get in trouble) and heard tall tales of little boy imaginations. All in all it was lots of fun, but I am SO tired. Derrick is SO tired. Boomer is SO tired. My hat is off to all you moms out there (Jamie, I mean you). You have strength of giants and patience like no other. I am in awe.


Haiden helping me roll dough.

I think Derrick said something funny.
With the hurricane weather brewing down south, we got a burst of cool air which made me want to carve pumpkins, make comforting warm dishes, decorate the front patio with berry wreaths and buy Halloween t-shirts...I resisted the pumpkins and decorating, but on their second night, I wrapped the boys up in aprons and we rolled biscuits and made chicken and dumplings. While the chicken cooked on the stove, I made vanilla cupcakes with swiss meringue buttercream. Tanner helped me by licking spatulas that were headed for the sink. Haiden was like my little timer, constantly asking, "When will the cupcakes be ready, Cricket?" Did I mention they call me Cricket? Cute, right?

Tanner and Haiden playing in the rain.


Our very own Power Ranger, "Pow!"
I used Paula Dean's 1-2-3-4 cake recipe and a basic swiss meringue buttercream with lots of vanilla. It was excellent. The buttercream tasted like homemade vanilla ice cream. It was so good. Not too sweet, creamy and buttery. I can't wait to make it again. It was actually my first attempt at making this kind of buttercream and it was easy. So easy I have grandiose dreams of making wedding cakes.

I am, however, not insane and after reading Smitten Kitchen's step by step on her wedding cake experience, I don't think I will ever take on that task. WOW.
I digress. This is a long rambling post, but the cupcakes were good the chicken and dumplings hit the spot. It was like fall. I LOVE FALL! Here are some pictures from the dumpling rolling. My chicken and dumplings recipe is available on my side bar.

Flour kisses from Tanner.

Pillow fights in the empty living room.
I didn't say anything about resisting the t-shirt, right? Isn't it cute?

Jamie and Moi in our Halloween t-shirts.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Beautimously Banana


When I was little, I couldn't say beautiful. I said beautimous. Let me tell you what, these cupcakes are just that. Beautimous, moist and delicious. I found Rhonda *J*'s recipe on recipezaar and it is a treasure to keep for sure. There is something to this whole shoving hot cupcakes in the freezer thing (read the directions, sounds weird, but it totally works). This cake is wonderful and, believe it or not, one of everyone's favorite's so far. Top them off with butterscotch "ganache" and luscious cream cheese icing and, whoa, you have a winner. I mean WHOA. Mmm Mmm good, like a Campbell's soup commercial for cupcakes.

I made little butterscotch dots for decoration and a butterscotch "L" for my coworkers birthday decor. They were a hit. These would be great for a neutral baby shower, or just because. SO yummy! The only negative is that melted butterscotch chips are not as easy to pipe as regular chocolate chips. They have a different texture and require a little more, ahem, force to get out onto the wax paper. It was still yummy.

Banana Cupcakes
Ingredients: (adapted from Rhonda *J*'s recipe found on Recipezaar.com)
2 cups ripe bananas
, mashed
2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lemon juice

3 cups flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup butter, softened

2 1/8 cups sugar

3 large eggs, room temperature

3 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups buttermilk


Directions:

Prepare cupcake pan or line with cupcake liners.

Preheat oven to 275°. (yes you are reading the temperature correctly- it says 275)
In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, blend 3/4 cup butter and 2 1/8 cups sugar until light and fluffy.
Mix in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp vanilla.

Mix in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk, starting and ending with flour.

Stir in banana mixture.

Pour batter into prepared cupcake pan and bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the cupcakes pass the toothpick test.
(My oven only needed 25 minutes)
Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.


Cream Cheese Icing
Ingredients:
1/2 cup
butter, softened
2, 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:

Blend all ingredients above together until smooth.

Refrigerate until ready to use.


For Butterscotch "Ganache":
Melt 1 bag of butterscotch chips over double boiler until melted and smooth.

Spread 1 tsp. over each cooled cupcake.
Then top with cream cheese icing.

Top with desired decoration.


I even made a few special heart shaped cakes for Derrick. They turned out super cute and he loved them!

Top view

From the side

Friday, September 5, 2008

Long Time No Post


Yeah Yeah Yeah. I know. I've been a slacker. Well, a cooking/blogging slacker. I have a really good excuse. Actually, I have excuses. You see this house and this exam have me preoccupied. Throw the busiest time in the work year into the mix and there has just been no cooking motivation.

I promise to post something yummy soon. I completely skipped the August Cupcake Hero and I have been a very bad barefoot blogger. Sigh.

For your viewing pleasure I am posting pictures of the Tres Leches Cupcakes with Ducle de Leche Buttercream that weren't adapted for Cupcake Hero. These were really so good. That ducle de leche is SINFUL! Click here for the scoop on how to make them. Just leave out the blueberry and raspberry.