Saturday, October 20, 2012

(Black and White and) Red Velvetine Cupcakes

I know you were lured here with the promise of black and white (and red!) cupcakes. I know it's intriguing and you have to give it a shot. But there's something else going on here, something I didn't want to give away in the title. But these cupcakes have a secret. Feeling interested? Slightly nervous? Well, don't be nervous. Because their secret isn't hard to handle. It will be easy. And fun. And delicious. Ready to know?
They have a filling.  Yeah. Another filled cupcake.
Shhhh! Don't tell your friends!
But these ones are wayyyyy easy. It'll look all fancy and impressive, like that time you carved out the middle and filled the cupcakes. But you don't have to do that here! Oh, no. Not at all. Way easy. Way cool.

Bake Temp: 375
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Bake Time: 20 minutes
Decorating Time: 15 minutes
Ready In: 1 hour and 30 minutes

For the frosting:
I made a basic cream cheese frosting, but you can use whatever you like!
1 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup room temp butter
1  cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbls cocoa powder
For the chocolate stuffing:
1 cup milk chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon unsalted butter

For the cupcakes:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg
2 teaspoons red food coloring
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vinegar

Begin by making the chocolate filling. It's very similar to the ganache we made a few weeks ago, but this is a little lighter and more melty.
In a small saucepan combine chocolate, cream, and butter.

Stir over low heat until chocolate is melted. Transfer to a small bow to freeze for about 1 hour.

In the meantime, make your frosting.  Mix together everything except for the cocoa powder. Split into two bowls. Add the cocoa powder to one bowl.

 You may have a little down time right now, between making the cupcake batter and waiting for the filling to harden enough to form. If the ganache is hard enough to roll into balls, go ahead and do that. Place the balls on wax paper and return to freezer.
Cupcake time.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.
In a small bowl sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt. Set aside.

Here's the right texture for butter/sugar
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter and sugar on medium for 2-3 minutes, until light in color and well combined.

Beat in egg, food coloring, and vanilla. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk, beating on low speed after each addition just until combined.

In a small bowl combine baking soda and vinegar. Stir into batter.
Divide half the batter among prepared cups.  
  Place a ball of chocolate into center of each cup. Top evenly with remaining batter.
Bake 15-17 minutes, or until tops spring back when lightly touched.
Take them out and let them cool completely. As always, this is really key. Warm cupcakes will melt the frosting. When completely cool, you may frost them. For the classic black and white cookie look (which is what I was going for) frost one half with vanilla frosting and the other with chocolate frosting. 

Here you can the wrappers I used. I indulged and spent the extra 50 cents or so to get the beautiful things. They have an inside layer of foil, so the color wouldn't bleed. When I took them out of the oven they did have kind of a strange smell but it went away. And given the nature of these cupcakes I'm pretty glad I got the extra lining.

Presenting the Newest Member of the Team

Finally the camera arrived! Wahoo!
Unfortunately, it wasn't until the camera arrived that I realized how little I know about photography. The most I have learned in the past few days is that photography seems to be mostly about luck. You just happen to click the button at the right moment (or in my case, you happen to aaccidentally press the button which takes a picture and miraculously the lens was pointed at something cool). Needless to say, my respect for photographers has greatly increased. Here's a few of my attempts...I'm hoping I'll have some small amount of luck with photographing food.

 Here's a picture of the most beautiful creature - our zebra finch, Billie. She's a wild, unmanageable creature who enclosed herself in a cage so as to keep all of her adoring fans outside.
 This is Lancelot, my beloved hedgehog. Although you may not be able to see from the picture, he is in fact sitting upon a leather pillow that is his primary mode of transport.

 Picture from nearby my favorite cross country course. I imagine these were once horse paddocks, but they are now quite overgrown.
Sunset captured in the mirror of my car.

Tomorrow will be the real test of my photography skills! It's cupcake time, kids.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

I Can't Believe It's Not Gluten - Brownie Edition

This recipe is dedicated to all the beautiful girls on my cross country team! 

A few of the lasses live gluten-free so I thought it was beyond time that I make a gluten-free recipe of my own. I've heard rice flour is an almost perfect substitute for regular baking flour. If I do make these again, I'll probably try to be more creative (with Halloween around the corner I'll probably try baking something with candy cars thrown in).
You can see that, with the exception of the rice flour, this is a pretty normal looking brownie recipe. I found that the taste is right on, too. This is fairly extraordinary given that I love gluten products, and had I not known this was gluten free, I would never  have guessed. 
Another great thing about this recipe is it's incredibly simple. It's not hassle at all to make the adjustment and I promise you nothing will be lost in the flavor department!
Hopefully my sister (home on school break) will be attempting a rather incredible recipe tomorrow. I don't want to give anything away, but it's going to be really good. 
 In other news - still no camera! Grrrrrr I've been waiting patiently (or not so patiently) all week for the darn thing to come! Ebay tells me that expected arrival date is 10/12/12. Ebay....why you let me down? So, once again, sorry for the lack of original photography. Hopefully I'll have something nice to show you tomorrow!
And finally, it's my papa's birthday Wednesday! He's one brilliant man.

Bake Temp: 325
What? Gluten-Free Brownies that taste awesome? how?!
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 25 minutes
Ready In:  45 minutes

You will need:
3/4 brown rice flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 ounces butter, cut into small cubes (for easy melting!)
pinch o' salt
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vaniller
2 eggs

Begin by setting your oven to 325. Either grease an 8 x 8 pan or layer with parchment paper.
Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave, being careful not to let the chocolate burn. Mix slowly until smooth. Add in a pinch of salt.

Mix in the vanilla and sugar. Crack eggs one at a time into the bowl. Now slowly pour the flour into the mixture, mixing slowly until well combined. Give it a few quick stirs before pouring into baking pan and baking at 325 for 20-25 minutes.

Real simple, real good.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Ganache, Creme-Filled Cupcakes C:

 Oh gosh. You're looking at the total time, right? You're saying to yourself "Who has that kind of time? Who cares that much?". Well wait. Give me a chance to explain, okay!
The ganache needs to sit overnight. That's right, I said ganache. These bad boys are topped with several inches of chocolate ganache. And they are filled. With creme - marshmallow creme. 
You're reconsidering, right? Saying "Hmmm, this is tempting". Yeah, it is. And it is labor intensive, but it's fun. The kind of tedium that let's you watch How I Met Your Mother or listen to RadioLab or whatever else you like to do when you're ears are unoccupied. 
So let's calm down. It's a commitment. A serious one. But I think you'll find it quite rewarding. I found several how-to's for you so the tricky looking things can become reasonable. 
As Aladdin says "Do you trust me?" 

'cause I'm about to show YOU a whole new world.

Cupcake Batter
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups cocoa powder
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
7.5 oz jar marshmallow fluff
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar

Chocolate Ganache (BEGIN THE NIGHT BEFORE)
16 ounces chocolate
16 ounces heavy whipping cream

The night before begin by making the ganache. I found this great how-to on ganache:

So, you warm the cream until it's just boiling. Pour over the chocolate chips. Allow to sit for several minutes. Slowly begin stirring to incorporate the chocolate into the cream. It will take several minutes for them to mix together. You know it's mixed when the chocolate is entirely melted and small air bubbles are visable. You don't want to overmix though!
If the cream isn't warm enough for everything to melt, either microwave briefly, or make a double boiler. Allow to sit overnight.

The next day begin the cupcakes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare your muffin tins by placing muffin wrappers in them (hard work).
Combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt and mix until combined. The key to many quick bread recipes is just stirring them enough to make them combined.
In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. Add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a spatula.
 Pour the batter into the prepared pans

and bake for 20 to 25 minutes at 350, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely. Be SURE they are completely cooled.

 As they cool begin the filling. Whip the room-temp butter until light and fluffy.. Add the fluff to butter and beat for 1 minute or until well combined. Add vanilla extract.Mix in the powdered sugar carefully - you want to try to prevent any clumps of sugar forming (although that isn't the worst thing that could happen). Set aside until cupcakes cool.
Now, look at your ganache. It's beautiful, right? Chocolate and cream. Love and happiness. Heaven. 
Anyways, you want to whip that sucker until it's like a fluffy and feels like a thick frosting. Hopefully by now your cupcakes are cool.
Once they are in cool, you have to begin a very delicate process- scooping out the middle. Cut into the cupcake at a rough 45 degree angle, making a triangle prism shape into the center. Remove the piece, and cut off the tip so you have just the top surface of the cupcake.  Sorry for the horrible description - here use this! 

Gosh, I'd really like one of those, please

Transfer creme to a pastry bag fitted with a round pastry tip. If you, like me, aren't one of those fancy piping people, you can put it into a regular sandwich bag with a corner snipped off. Pipe filling into cupcake cores until level with the top of the cake. Transfer filled cupcakes to the fridge. Once filling is firmed up a bit (about 30 minutes - 1 hour), gently pat down any peaks in the filling with your finger (it shouldn’t stick to you — if it does, they need to be chilled longer). They are now ready for the ganache. Fill the hole with fluff creme and put the top back on. 

Repeat with all the cupcakes!
Now, time for the ganache frosting. Use the same piping device for the ganache a top the cupcakes. You have finished! Great job!

Oreo German Cake

Oh my gosh. It's Monday. Eliana didn't update yesterday -even though it was SUNDAY. How could she? Why would she do this to us?
I'm sorry guys. I really am. This three day weekend went straight to my head. I was busy yesterday. Falling in love. With who?
This bad boy.

The Canon Powershot SX40 HS
 Is he amazing? Isn't he fine? He's a real beaut. Look at him from the side.

He has 35x magnification

 Let me say that again- 35X magnification! 35! 35! BUT WAIT!

Guess who's listed as #8 on the list of something or other an Amazon. Has 5 out of 5 stars on Canon's website. Yeah, this guy.
I'm sorry, I know I owe you more than that weak apology. I owe you one. 
Doesn't do it justice....
Here's a special birthday cake - unfortunately the old camera is out of commission, so none of these pictures are my own. It's an OREO cake! 
Say what? 
Yeah! Oreo cake!
Not to mention, the frosting recipe comes from my FAVORITE cookbook. It's called "The Golden Book of Chocolate". The pages are gilded.

Bake Temp: 350
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Bake Time: 35-40 minutes
Total Time: 1 hr, 25 minutes

German Chocolate Cake:
Fun fact! The German of German chocolate cake is a person, not the country! Samuel German, an employee of Baker's chocolate factory entered this recipe into a competition.

4 oz. semi-sweet baking chocolate
1/2 cup water
2 1/4 c flour (or 2 1/2 cups cake flour if you're feeling fancy)
Dis is what your cake will be, I promise
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup butter (room temp!)
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c buttermilk

3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 cup butter (room temp)
1 cup cocoa powder (for chocolate)
2 tbls vanilla (for vanilla)
2/3 cup milk

Grease three pans. Let me say again, 3 pans. That's right! It's a tri-tiered cake! To make it super-easy to remove the baked cakes, put a layer of wax paper or parchment paper at the bottom of each pan. Additionally, for an awesomer cake, you can make the tiers different sizes!
Begin by melting the chocolate and water together in a pan. Mix carefully so it doesn't burn. Once the chocolate is completely melted, set aside to cool while you mix the rest of the batter.

Combine flour, salt and baking soda together. Now, in a separate bowl, beat together the sugar and butter until it makes a paste. Carefully now, separate the egg yolks from the whites. Beat the yolks in one at a time and save the whites for later!
Beat in the vanilla and buttermilk and chocolate mixture. Now, sift the flour mixture in and stir until just combined. Pour into each pan in equal amounts. Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.

Note the crumbly surface - this is from the egg whites

Now is the fun part! Beat the egg whites until they are stiff. Fold into the batter.
As the cake bakes, begin working on the frosting. Beat the butter into a mushy pulp. Stir in the confectioner's sugar. Mix together for several minutes. Now, add in the cocoa powder or vanilla, depending on which flavor you want. Mix in the milk. For the vanilla, you may wish to use closer to 1/3 of a cup because you have fewer dry ingredients, or add in more sugar. Let chill in the fridge until the cake is down and cooled.

You definitely want to make sure the frosting and cake are cool before frosting the cake. It makes the frostingability much higher!

But I bet you're wondering why I called it an oreo cake. So. Here's what we did - we split the frosting equally into two bowls. One was made into vanilla, one was made into chocolate. the inner layers of the cake were frosted with vanilla and the outside with chocolate. The cake was topped with oreo crumbles! Yum!
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