Friday, May 16, 2014

Fresh strawberry cupcakes with strawberry-lime filling, and strawberry meringue buttercream frosting

  • I have a confession to make: I have been craving so much sweets during this pregnancy... unfortunately (or maybe fortunately if you want to take this as a wake-up call), I failed my glucose test! That did NOT happen with either of my first two pregnancies, so I was very shocked/ashamed... I certainly felt guilty for all the sweets I let myself eat... And you know what? Do you know how hard it is to crave something when you are told you can't have it? Until I took the 3-hour glucose test, I tried really hard to cut back on my cravings, and ate some sweets in moderation. Well, test is over (after being poked 4 times!!!) and so I let myself bake :) I still don't know the test results yet, but at least I let myself make these cupcakes that I have been dying to bake. 
  • The cupcakes are from Confections of a Foodie Bride and the frosting is from Martha Stewart's CUPCAKES. And just to add a little extra fun, I mixed half lime curd (that I made for another recipe) and half extra strawberry puree (leftover) and filled the cupcakes. It added a nice brightness to the cupcake, giving it an extra dimension. Definitely worth giving this recipe a go!
  • AND, these cupcakes were made with my friend Laura in mind, who just had her baby girl! Congratulations Laura and Michael; squeeze that adorable bundle of joy every chance you get because she will definitely grow up too fast! :)
  • Ingredients:
  • For the strawberry puree:
  • 24 oz very ripe strawberries, hulled (or no-sugar-added frozen strawberries)
  • 1-2 tsp sugar (optional)
  • For the cake:
  • 1/4 cup milk, at room temperature
  • 4 whole eggs, room temperature 
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cup cake flour, sifted
  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 12 Tbsp unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature

  1. Slice and toss the fresh strawberries with a teaspoon or two of sugar and cover. Let them sit at room temperature for a couple of hours, until nice and juicy.
  2. Place strawberries in a food processor or blender and puree. Reserve 3/4 cup puree for the cake (the rest you can use in the frosting, or as a filling for the cupcakes/cake).
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare two 8- or 9-inch pans: spray inside with baking spray with flour (or use some sort of grease/flour combination). If making cupcakes, line 2 cupcake pans with paper liners. 
  4. In a 2-cup measuring cup, combine puree, milk, and vanilla and mix with fork until well blended; set aside. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  5.  In a bowl of stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together for about 4-5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Start adding flour mixture, alternating with puree mixture, in three ways. Mix just until all the flour is incorporated.
  6. Divide the batter evenly among the pans and smooth tops (or fill cupcake liners about 2/3 of the way full).
  7. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (time will vary).  For cupcakes, bake for about 15-20 minutes (start checking at around 13 minutes). Let cakes rest in pan for about 10 minutes and turn out onto wire racks. Let cakes cool completely (about 2 hours).
Strawberry Meringue Buttercream

  1. 1-1/2 cups fresh strawberries, in puree form (8oz)
  2. 4 large egg whites
  3. 1-1/4 cups sugar
  4. 1-1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons, room temperature
  1. Combine egg whites and sugar in the heatproof bowl of a standing electric mixer set over a pan of simmering water. Whisk constantly by hand until mixture is warm to the touch and sugar has dissolved, about 160 degrees F.
  2. Attach the bowl to the mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Starting on low and gradually increasing to medium-high speed, mix until stiff (but not dry) peaks form. Continue mixing until the mixture is fluffy and glossy, and completely cool (test by touching the bottom of the bowl), about 10 minutes.
  3. With mixer on medium-low speed, add the butter a few tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. once all butter has been added, scrape down sides of bowl with a flexible spatula and switch to the paddle attachment; continue beating on low speed until all air bubbles are eliminated, about 2 minutes. Add strawberries and beat until combined. Stir with a flexible spatula until the frosting is smooth. 
Recipe adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Margarita Cupcakes

This is for you lil' sis - Happy Birthday!!! Can't believe you are turning 23 this year... how time flies! I'm glad I had the opportunity to send you a nice birthday treat through our middle sis, so I hope you enjoyed it.
With your standing request of green treats, this time I made a margarita cupcake - although not entirely green (the green curd was made by adding artificial coloring, or else it would just look like lemon curd), you get a nice surprise green middle. And limes are green, so that counts right? :)
Here is my wish/hope that you have a wonderful birthday, and that this coming year is as exciting and fulfilling as you want it to be!

For the curd: 

  • 2 whole eggs plus 8 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 6 limes)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, at room temperature
  • a tiny bit of green food coloring (optional, add a little at a time)

For the cupcakes:

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 100g (about 1 1/4 cup) unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes), zested and juiced
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk

For the frosting:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 8 large egg whites
  • Pinch fleur de sel (coarse salt)
  • 1½ cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp. tequila


1. Lime Curd: combine whole eggs and yolks, sugar, and lime juice in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cook, whisking constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat back of a spoon. Remove from heat. add butter, a few pieces at a time, whisking until smooth after each addition. Cover with parchment paper or plastic wrap, pressing it directly on surface to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled and firm, at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days).
2. Cupcakes: preheat the oven to 325˚ F.  Line two cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, coconut flakes, and salt; stir with a fork to blend.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3-5 minutes.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Beat in the lime zest and lime juice.  With the mixer on low speed, mix in the dry ingredients in three additions alternating with the buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat each addition just until incorporated.2. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about ¾ full.  Bake 20-24 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  If desired, brush the cooled cakes with tequila to emphasize the true margarita flavor.3. Frosting: combine the sugar, egg whites, and salt in a heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water.  Heat, whisking frequently, until the mixture reaches 160° F and the sugar has dissolved.  Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about 8 minutes.  Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, adding more once each addition has been incorporated.  If the frosting looks soupy or curdled, continue to beat on medium-high speed until thick and smooth again, about 3-5 minutes more (don’t worry, it will come together, though it may take a very long time!)  Stir in the lime juice and tequila and mix until fully incorporated and smooth.4. Keep buttercream at room temperature if using the same day, or transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 3 days or freeze up to 1 month. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat with paddle attachment on low speed until smooth again, about 5 minutes.  Frost the cooled cupcakes with the buttercream.  Garnish with a dot of lime curd.

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats (for cake and frosting) and Martha Stewart's Cupcakes (for lime curd)

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Chocolate pudding

Ohhhhh wintery winter... when will you go away??? That's what goes through my mind lately. All the years I've been in the US, this is the worst in terms of snow accumulation. It feels like you finish shoveling, then more comes down! But hey, at least every day that passes, we are one step closer to spring :)
And with all this snow on the ground, it's hard to do a spur-of-the-moment run to the grocery store/restaurant when a craving hits... so I guess if I can't BUY it, I may as well MAKE it (which is probably better in the long run anyways). The latest craving was chocolate pudding. It just sounded so nice! Plus I saw a picture of chocolate pudding on Pinterest. Didn't end up using that recipe, but instead Googled some options and settled on trying this recipe from Hershey's website.
How it turned out? Very rich and creamy, very chocolaty - just overall wonderful! 

And to join forces with Mother Nature, if I can't beat this snow, might as well use it to my advantage :) 
PS: This is how I eat my chocolate pudding - a little pudding, with a LOT of whipped cream! :) 

Chocolate pudding
About 6 servings (at my house at least)


  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2-1/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Whipped topping (optional, but HIGHLY recommended)
  1. In a medium saucepan, stir together sugar, cocoa powder, cornstarch, and salt. Gradually stir in milk.
  2. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture boils; boil and stir 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into individual dessert dishes. To avoid a skin from forming on top, press plastic wrap directly onto surface; serve warm or refrigerate at least 2 hours. Garnish with whipped topping, if desired. 4 to 5 servings.

Original recipe from Hershey's

Friday, January 31, 2014

Cookies and Cream Cupcakes

Hello everyone!
What do you do when you have too many Oreo cookies on hand, and want to eat cake? Use it in a cupcake, of course! That was basically the logistics of making these puppies this week. They turned out so good though, I'll definitely make them again in the future. What a great recipe from Annie's Eats!
To make 36 cupcakes (a recipe and a half of the original recipe), I basically used up ~60 Oreo cookies (or generic cream-filled chocolate cookies) between the bottom of the cupcake, the filling, and the toppings. The few extras are because some cookies "broke" in the process and therefore were too "ugly" to use, and had to be "disposed" (aka into my mouth)... one of the perks of being the baker, right? :)
Cookies and Cream Cupcakes
Makes 36 cupcakes

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line the wells of three cupcake pans with 36 paper liners. Place an Oreo halve in the bottom of each liner, cream side up. 
2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt; stir together with a fork to blend and set aside.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar and beat together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Blend in the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla extract. With the mixer on lowest speed, beat in a third of the dry ingredients just until incorporated. Add half of the milk and beat just until combined, then mix another third of the dry ingredients, add the other half of the milk, then finally add in the remaining dry ingredients. Gently fold in the chopped Oreos with a rubber spatula until evenly incorporated, being careful not to over-mix.
4. Evenly divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners. Bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans 5-10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Whipped Cream Cheese Frosting

1. Combine cream cheese and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the vanilla extract.
2. Beat in about 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar, then add  the heavy cream and add 2 more cups of the confectioner's sugar and beat until incorporated (if consistency is still too "runny", add the other cup of confectioner's sugar).
3. Increase the speed to medium-high and whip for 4 minutes until light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

1. Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Sprinkle with Oreo crumbs and garnish with Oreo halves.

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Happy New Year 2014! 
Man, it's been too long... so much has happened... we are expecting #3 this coming June (hence the lack of posts - so hard to want to cook/bake when you are nauseated all the time...), while #1 and #2 have been keeping us busy growing up and thriving :) But can't complain, life is good!!!
Okay, so now with most of the nausea gone and most of my energy coming back to "normal", cravings are starting to kick in. One of my old-time cravings kicked in this last week... red velvet cake! But I was feeling too tired to bake at night after the kiddos were in bed, so I cheated and went to the grocery store to buy some. Got to the bakery section, and was told that red velvet is a seasonal item for Thanksgiving/Christmas time only! WHAT?!!!!! Ok, now the craving had been kicked up a notch, and I just couldn't let it go. So I decided to bake it... but then thought that I'd kick IT up a notch and make it the cheesecake style. I found this recipe from Recipe Girl and just had to try it. 
I've never made a cake/cheesecake combo before just due to the time-consuming aspect of it: more components = more time-consuming. This time though, I took a deep breath and dove in to the baking. And despite the different components, it wasn't as time-consuming as I had anticipated. Made the cheesecake one day, let it freeze it overnight, then made the cakes next morning, let them cool, made the icing and voila! Not too bad :)
 I figured I'd have it tonight with my family after dinner, but just so I could take pictures of the layers (and ONLY for that reason, not because I wanted to eat it already...) I cut into it. Baby's verdict??? Two thumbs up!

 Supper yummy! I actually increased the cheesecake layer by 150% from the original one just because I wanted to have more cheesecake. If you prefer to have an even look to your layers, then you may want to do the original recipe.
And to make the cake pretty (because everyone eats with their eyes first), I made "roses". Here is a tutorial  on how to make these beauties. Super easy!

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Three (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
pinch of salt
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the oven. Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Wrap a layer of foil inside the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you want to seal it so the water from the water bath doesn't seep into the pan). Spray the inside of the foil with baking spray.
In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to mix the cream cheese- blend until it is nice and smooth and creamy. Mix in sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down sides of the bowl as needed. Add eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in sour cream, whipping cream and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan into the roasting pan in the pre-heated oven. Carefully pour the hot water from your kettle into the roasting pan (it will fill the pan surrounding the cheesecake). Pour enough water so that there is about an inch of water coming up along the sides of the cheesecake pan. Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely. This can be done in several hours- or overnight.

Red Velvet Cake:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups vegetable or canola oil
1 cup buttermilk
1-ounce (usually one bottle) red food coloring
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons white vinegar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add a 9-inch round parchment paper cutout to the bottom of each of two 9-inch round metal baking pans. Grease paper and sides of pan with nonstick baking spray with flour.
In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt - set aside. With an electric mixer, beat the eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar. Once blended, add the flour mixture with liquid mixture in thirds, making sure each addition is well mixed in. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pans, dividing equally. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pans, then invert cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting:
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted lightly to remove any lumps
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 Tbsp heavy cream
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat powdered sugar, cream cheese, butter and vanilla until it is smooth and creamy (do not overbeat).

Assembling the cake: 
Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan and open foil wrap. Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be a slightly larger round than your cake, move it to a cutting board and gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake to get it to the same size as your cake layers. Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the 2nd cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

Frosting the cake: 
Apply a crumb coat layer to the cake- use a long, thin spatula to cover the cake completely with a thin and even layer of frosting. Be sure to wipe off your spatula each time you are about to dip it back into the bowl to get more frosting (this way you won't be transferring any red crumbs into the bowl of frosting). Don't worry at this point about the crumbs being visible in the frosting on the cake. When your cake has a thin layer of frosting all over it, place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to "set" the frosting. Once the first layer of frosting is set, apply the 2nd layer. Start by adding a large scoop of frosting onto the top of the cake. Use a long, thin spatula to spread the frosting evenly across the top and then spread it down the sides of the cake too. Because you applied a crumb-coat layer, you shouldn't have any red crumbs floating around in the final frosting layer. Decorate, as desired. Keep this cake refrigerated.
Recipe adapted from Recipe Girl