Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hallowe'en Cupcakes 2008

So they came a day late, but they were still very well received. Once again, I turned to Martha Stewart for the recipes. I made One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes again and there was enough batter to make 36 good sized cupcakes. The batter didn't rise and bake up over the liners and all 36 of the bases were a nice even size. I have squeezed the entire recipe into 24 cups before, but the final product baked way over the liners. The other recipes used are below.


Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream*

4 large egg whites
1 cup sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
8 ounces best quality bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees F).

Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it holds stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture is fluffy and cooled, about six minutes.

Switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If the frosting appears to separate after all the butter had been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Add in melted chocolate. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.

*recipe from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook (page 386)


This made enough to generously frost all 36 cupcakes.

Frosting had a rich chocolate flavour and wasn't too sweet.


Chocolate Cookie Cutouts* (Makes about 3 dozen cookies)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cups unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift flower, cocoa powder, salt, and cinnamon into a bowl.

Put butter and confectioners' sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitter with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in egg and vanilla. Reduce speed to low. Gradually mix in flour mixture. Wrap dough in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, 1 hour or overnight.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough in 1/8 inch thick. Transfer to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Chill in freezer 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Using a 3-inch cookies cutter, quickly cut out shapes from dough (if dough begins to soften, chill it in the freezer 3 to 5 minutes). Reroll and cut scraps. Transfer shapes to prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Brush flour from shapes. Chill in freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

Bake cookies until crisp, about 8 minutes. Let cool completely on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored between layers of parchment in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.

*recipe from Martha Stewart Cookies (page 239)


Rolling out the dough straight from the fridge was a bit difficult. I split the dough into two to make it easier and let them come up in temperature a bit. I rolled out the dough between two pieces of wax paper so it wasn't too bad, but if I hadn't used wax paper, I would have dusted my counter quite a bit because the dough was rather sticky once it warmed up. I also recommend dipping your cookie cutter into flour and dusting your lifting spatula with flour as well.

I didn't have any parchment on hand so I lined the baking sheets with tin foil instead, dull side up. I don't think this made any difference on the end product.

I don't have the freezer space to chill the dough over and over again so I just checked on the cookies frequently when they were in the over. They didn't spread out too much because they weren't cold enough and they were nice and crispy when they were done.


Royal Icing* (Makes 2 1/2 cups)

1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons meringue powder
Scan 1/2 cup water

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until smooth, about 7 minutes. If icing is too thick, add more water; if too thin, beat icing 2 to 3 minutes more or add more confectioners' sugar a tablespoon at a time. Use icing immediately, or store in an airtight container up to 2 days (icing hardens quickly when exposed to air). Beat well with a rubber spatula before using.

*recipe from Martha Stewart Cookies (page 241)


This recipe made a huge amout of icing for what I was doing. I was amazed at how much icing I had left over after I finished icing all the cookies. Half would have been more than enough but as this was my first time using this recipe, I made the whole thing. I poured a ton of icing down the drain.

I added much more than a scant 1/2 cup of water to get the right consistency for flooding. I couldn't find disposible piping bags (and I'm glad didn't) so I bought small squeeze bottles instead. This made it easy to handle the icing because I didn't have to worry about tying off the tops of pastry bags and I can reused the squeeze bottles for more cookies.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Lauren's Lemon Birthday Cupcakes

The last batch of three that I made in one week. I used a box of white cake mix and grated the zest of one lemon into the batter for the base. The frosting is swiss meringue butter cream again but with lemon curd.

Martha Stewart's Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Follow Instructions for Swiss Meringue Buttercream, omitting the vanilla extract and stirring in 3/4 cup Lemon Curd (page 390) with a rubber spatula at the end.

Lemon Curd
makes 2 cups

8 large egg yolks
finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Combine yolks, lemon zest, lemon juice, and sugar in a heavy-bottom saucepan; whisk to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (be sure to scrape the sides of the pan), until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon, 8 to 10 minutes, and registers 160 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer.

Remove saucepan from heat. Add salt and butter, one piece at a time, stirring until smooth. Strain though a fine sieve into a medium bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and set, at least 1 hour or up to 1 day.


This recipe made the perfect amount of curd to fill 24 cupcakes and flavour the frosting. I used a little too much lemon juice so my curd didn't set very firm but it still tasted great. I'm a firm believer that if you're going to go with a lemon flavoured dessert, go big on the lemon and this curd was nice and tart.

I used the same filling method as I did with these cupcakes. Once again, the filling made it a little messy to eat with just your hands so a fork may be in order.

Gareth's 33rd Birthday Cupcakes

I planned on baking three batches of cupcakes in one extremely hectic week so I used cake mix. So the base is mix but the frosting is Martha Stewart's Swiss Meringue Buttercream (a.k.a. my new bff). I love this frosting; easy to make and pipes beautifully.

You can find this recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook on page 386.

4 large egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In the heatproof bowl of an electric mixer set over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the egg whites and sugar. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sugar ha dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch (about 160 degrees Fahrenheit).

Attach the bowl tot he mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. beat the egg-white mixture on high speed until it hold stiff (but not dry) peaks. Continue beating until the mixture if fluffy and cooled, about 6 minutes.

switch to the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter several tablespoons at a time, beating well after each addition. (If the frosting appears to separate after all the butter has been added, beat on medium-high speed until smooth again, 3 to 5 minutes more.) Beat in vanilla. Beat on lowest speed to eliminate any air bubbles, about 2 minutes. Stir with a rubber spatula until frosting is smooth.

This was the second time that I made this frosting so I just put the egg whites and sugar over medium high heat because it took forever to heat up the first time around. As long as you keep whisking until they're warm, you won't overcook them.

After filling a piping bag with the frosting, I put it in the fridge to firm up a bit and then it piped perfectly. There was more than enough to frost 24 cupcakes. This frosting will most likely be my all-purpose go-to for cupcakes.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

tiramisu cupcakes

so every now and then a girl wants to treat her friends but just doesn't have the time to do things from scratch. so i cheated with a box of white cake mix. to make a coffee flavoured cake, prepare cake mix as instructed on the box but substitute the water with double strength brewed and chilled coffee. bake the cupcakes and let cool completely.

make room for filling
once cupcakes have COMPLETELY cooled (don't go hacking into warm cupcakes!!). i found it easiest to insert a paring knife in at 45 degree angel and rotate the cupcake around the knife. i went to close to the edge on a few of the cakes and the seam didn't get covered by the whipped cream.

drizzle bottoms with coffee
i used a teaspoon but i really would have preferred a pastry brush. that will be the next item i will add to my baking hardware.

put in the filling
i made way, waaaaayyyy too much mascarpone cream because there was only a really big tub at the grocery store but mostly because i had a brain fart and didn't realize that i only need approximately 24 tablespoons of filling.

anyway, with a 500ml tub of mascarpone, i added six egg yolks, 3/4 cup of white sugar, and about 1/4 cup of frangelico.

replace tops
i put a little too much filling into some of the cakes so the filling spilled out. it didn't really matter for all of them but i didn't like the way the finished product looked for the ones that i had cut too close to the edge.

pipe whipped cream
i whipped 750ml of heavy cream with 3tbsp of cream of tartar to stabilized it and sweetened it up with 3/4 cup of sugar.

dust with coco
i was a little heavy handed with the dusting. i wanted to give them all an even cover but there were some bare spots which caused me to over dust others on the second go around.

my first filled cupcake. the coffee drizzled made the cupcakes very moist but also very soft. these were a bit messy to eat because the tops didn't really "stick" to the bottoms and the whipped cream gets all over your nose if you try to take a bite out of a cupcake from top to bottom. these were really easy to make and i'm sure i will but i'm going to try a few more filled cupcakes first.

Monday, February 18, 2008

one bowl chocolate cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting

this recipe from martha stewart's baking handbook has become my favourite recipe of the moment. i made it as a 9 inch layer cake first and it also turned out beautifully. you just dump everything into a bowl, mix, scrape down the sides of the bowl, mix again, pour into prepared pans, bake & *poof* - you have awesome chocolaty baked goods. here is the super easy recipe. i was lucky and received a kitchenaid stand mixer for my birthday/christmas present so it's super easy for me to whip up a batch of these =)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large whole eggs, plus 1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups warm water

preheat the over to 350 degrees fahrenheit. line two standard 12-cup muffin pans with paper liners. Into the bowl of an electric mixer, sift together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. attack bowl to mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; add th eggs and yolk, the milk. oil, vanilla, and warm water. beat on low speed until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes; scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

divide batter evenly among the muffin cups, filling each about two-thirds full. bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centre of a cupcake comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. transfer pans to a wire rack to cool slightly. invert cupcakes onto the rack; then reinvert and let them cool completely, top sides up. cupcakes can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

martha uses a swiss meringue buttercream to frost the cupcakes but i chose to use her dark chocolate frosting instead. recipe is as follows...

1 pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons dutch-process cocoa powder
6 tablespoons boiling water
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
pinch of salt

place chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water. turn of the heat; stir occasionally until chocolate has melted completely, about 15 minutes. set bowl on countertop, and let chocolate cool to room temperature, 25 to 30 minutes. meanwhile, combine cocoa powder and boiler water in a small bowl; stir until cocoa is dissolved.

in the bowl of an electric mixed fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. add melted chocolate; beat on low speed until combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. beat in the cocoa mixture.

and now are a few more than two of my cents...

1) there was way more batter than needed to fill 24 standard muffin cups. a few of my cupcakes baked over the paper and stuck a bit to the tins.

2) i wanted raspberry flavoured chocolate frosting but could not find any raspberry extract (shit loads of orange, almond, lemon, and vanilla extracts though) so i used smirnoff raspberry twist vodka instead. instead of the boiling water, i used 6 tablespoons of the vodka and just stirred the cocoa in. i didn't heat the vodka because i was afraid of losing the raspberry flavour. the frosting turned out well. you could definitely tell that there was alcohol in the frosting so i wouldn't give these to little ones.

3) coloured sprinkles and candies make great garnishes if you're going after a theme. i didn't notice anyone at the bulk barn giving me dirty looks while i picked out only pink conversation hearts but it wouldn't have stopped me if i did.

4) the cakes themselves were super moist and just light enough. not so light that it felt like a krispy kreme donut and not so dense that it felt like a brick. i will definitely be making this recipe again.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

chocolate truffles

so my very first attempt at making chocolate truffles. why? because i suddenly thought that i was an oompa-loompa. no, that's not true. i just wanted to make a bunch of things that i could give to my friends for the holidays and since i didn't want to make a gillion cupcakes, i opted for truffles. so the recipe i used was only for a batch of chocolate raspberry truffles but i decided to up the ante and made not only raspberry, but mint chocolate, mocha, and hazelnut truffles. yes, that's FOUR batches in total.

the line up
heavy cream
smirnoff raspberry twist vodka
creme de menthe
corn syrup
white chocolate
bittersweet chocolate
unsalted butter
wilton gel food colourings (green, red & brown)

mise en place
i highly recommend for all ingredients to be measured out for each batch before you begin any candy making. recipes look really quick and easy on television because everything is prepped. now if only i had an assistant in my kitchen to do all my prep work for me.

whisk together heavy cream & corn syrup over stove
my mixture boiled a little bit but it didn't affect the final product.

pour hot cream over chopped chocolate
i used my awesome rubbermaid containers for this step because i knew that i would have to chill the chocolate eventually so i figured i'd save a bowl.

let the hot cream sit for a bit to help the chocolate melt down easily.

whisk mixture until smooth
there's something oddly satisfying about combining two things until they're nice and smooth. i think it has something to do with making two different substances into one harmonious on. wow, i just sounded like a hippie. moving on...

add butter
i found cutting up the butter into little pieces made it a lot easier to incorporate the butter. i didn't bother doing this with my first batch and i didn't think the butter would every melt into the chocolate.

add liquor

um, right, anyway, the liquor will be very fragrant when it hits the warm chocolate. it will look like the chocolate had split but a good whisking will get it back to a nice smooth consistency.

make some fridge space
i guess you don't really need all that much fridge space if you're only making one batch

don't forget to label
i suppose i could have used regular sticky notes but hello kitty stickies are
way more fun.

hack up more chocolate
holy crap. i would have traded an arm for a food processor at this point.

roast some nuts
stupid bulk barn didn't have any pre-roasted chopped hazel nuts.

prepare to scoop
the recipe said to dip the scoop in hot water but i only did that with the first batch. i realized that it's much, MUCH easier to pull the chilled chocolate out of the fridge and let it warm up a bit. the warmed chocolate is a helluva lot easier to scoop and there's no dipping in hot water required.

the centres
i got about 35 out of each batch.

rollin' time
gloves from my pink hair days.

you need gloves
well, i guess i didn't REALLY need gloves but i have pretty bad circulation as it is and i can't imagine the mess i could have been covered in if i didn't have gloves. and my apartment is alway freezing. so cold in fact that i'm having trouble typing properly at this very moment.

roll & chill
back in the fridge...

coating time
place chopped chocolate over a bowl of simmering h2o. stir occasionally.

if i were to make this recipe again, i would melt small batches of coating chocolate at a time. i found that by the time i got to my last batch, the chocolate had hardened already and i had to melt it again which wouldn't have been a big deal, but my hands were covered in chocolate and i made a mess of the stove.

more chopping
at this point, i would have given a leg as well for a food processor.

mise en place again
get all the stuff together and parchment to drop the covered centres on.

coat and roll
i put way too much chocolate coating on my first batch so they ended up being huge after i rolled them in the nuts. and i didn't buy enough nuts/didn't chop them up finely enough either so i ran out of nuts towards to end of this batch.

finished nut batch
next time maybe i'll only dip them in to get nuts on just one half.

the rest of the garnish
melt small amounts of white chocolate in the microwave (there's no point is doing the double boiler method for such a scant amount. unless you're martha and you really want to be that way).

fork it
the chocolate may not look melted when you check on it the first couple of times but you have to stir it (i prefer to use a fork) because it's most likely almost there.

colour it
add food colouring until the desired hue is reached.

drizzle, drizzle, drizzle
pink = raspberry
green = mint
brown = mocha

finished product
make sure you make a pretty plate for your roommate to enjoy because she has had to put up with your giant chocolate mess.

box 'em up & spread some holiday cheer
i used little chinese take out boxes (i put 4 truffles in each) and then tapped a strip of wrapping paper around them. thankfully this wrapped paper had stripes on it that made for very useful guidelines.