Monday, November 26, 2012

Butterfinger Cupcakes


This is a special post for Karen! 
Karen is the awesome lady who takes care of my children while I work. So what do I call her: nanny, babysitter? Those words just don't fit all that she does. She has taken care of my daughter since she was about 3 months old (she is 3 now!), and my son since he was 2 months old. She watches them from the moment I drop them off before work until after all the patients and charts are done (which is sometimes a lot later than I would want). Rain or shine, healthy or sick (either her or the kids!), she is there for us. She has even taken care of me when I smashed my finger on my car door, or fed me when I didn't have time to grab lunch... She is so much more than just a babysitter because she is an integral part in my children's life. She has taught them so much, so many good life values like patience, kindness, prayer and friendship... 
I think that any mother would understand this (and fathers too): it is a very stressful thing to choose who/where should take care of your children. There are so many different options around, so which one best fits your family needs? We met Karen through one of the gals I work with (Karen takes care of her son too), and she was exactly what we needed. From day one, I felt comfortable in leaving my first born in the hands of a "stranger". Having her there for us gives me the peace of mind that my children are in good hands while I work. It's a good sign when you pick up your children and they don't want to leave (either that or I'm just a boring parent...)!
Anyways, thanks for everything Karen, and happy birthday!!! :)
PS: a little birdie named Sarah told me your like Butterfingers!
About the cupcakes: the base is my favorite chocolate cake recipe, and the frosting is a mixture of butter, peanut butter, and... wait for it... melted candy corn!!! Weird? Yes! But amazing flavor, totally tastes like the inside of a Butterfinger. I got the recipe from The Baking Robot.  They did have an additional step, which I didn't do for lack of time, but would have totally made it since it sounds so good! You can freeze the cupcakes and coat the outside of the frosting with chocolate to really mimic a Butterfinger candy bar. Yum!! Head on over to her blog to see that part of the recipe and also a tutorial link.
Chocolate Cupcakes
Makes ~2 dozen cupcakes

Ingredients:
-2 cups white sugar
-1 3/4 cups AP flour
-3/4 cup cocoa powder
-1 1/2 tsp baking powder
-1 1/2 tsp baking soda
-1 tsp salt
-2 eggs
-1 cup milk
-1/2 cup canola oil
-1 cup boiling water (yes boiling!)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line two 12-count muffin tins with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
3. In a large bowl of a stand up mixer set with the paddle attachment, beat eggs, milk, and canola oil until well combined. Add the dry ingredients in 3 increments, mixing well after each addition. Carefully stir in boiling water, mixing until combined and batter has thinned.
4. Fill paper liners 2/3 of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.
"Butterfinger" Frosting
Ingredients:
-1/2 cup milk
-1 1/2 cups candy corn
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
-1/2 cup peanut butter, smooth
-3-4 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
1. In a saucepan over low heat, combine candy corn and milk. Melt the candy corn, stirring occasionally, until it is completely dissolved and the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Let cool to room temperature. This will yield 1 cup.
2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and peanut butter. Add 2-3 cups of powdered sugar. Gradually add candy corn mixture until desired consistency is achieved. Add more powdered sugar if necessary. If too thick, add some milk or heavy cream and beat well.
3. Frost cupcake as you desire. I added a baking version of Butterfingers to the top for garnish :)

Recipe adapted from The Baking Robot

Sunday, November 25, 2012

White Chocolate Mousse Cherry Pie


Happy Thanksgiving everyone! November has been a very busy month at our household, let me tell ya! Between birthdays and Thanksgiving, most weekends had something special planned with family and friends. I am not complaining though! It's a wonderful thing to celebrate special events with those you love. :)
One of them is my dear husband's birthday! I had been asking for a while what he wanted on his birthday... he will eat anything dessert-y that I make, but when it comes to that special treat, he had to think for a bit. Then I brought this magazine home:
And he was sold by the cover picture! White Chocolate Mousse Cherry Pie. Wow! Just the title made my mouth water (not to mention the picture itself). 
So here is the recipe for this bad boy, because I know I'll have to make it again someday. Birthday boy enjoyed it!!!
Ingredients:
CRUST:
-16 cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (aka Oreos)
-3/4 cup chopped macadamia nuts
-2 Tbsp butter, melted
FILLING:
-1 Tbsp cornstarch
-2 Tbsp water
-1 can (21oz) cherry pie filling
-1/2 tsp almond extract
WHITE CHOCOLATE MOUSSE:
-1 cup cold milk
-1 package (3.3oz) instant white chocolate pudding mix
-1 envelope unflavored gelatin
-3 cups heavy whipping cream, divided
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/4 tsp almond extract
GARNISH:
-chocolate curls and drizzle, optional
Directions:
CRUST: 
1. Preheat oven to 350F.  In a food processor, combine the cookies and nuts; cover and process until cookies are finely chopped. Add butter; cover and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
2. Press onto bottom and up the sides of ungreased 9-in deep dish pie plate. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes or until set. Cool completely on wire rack.
FILLING:
1. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small saucepan until smooth. Stir in pie filling. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for one minute or until slightly thickened. Remove from the heat; stir in the extract. Cool completely.
MOUSSE:
1. In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mix for 2 minutes. let stand for 2 minutes or until soft-set; set aside. In a small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cream; let stand for one minute. Heat over low heat; stirring until gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat.
2. In a large bowl, beat remaining cream until it begins to thicken. Add sugar and extract; beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in gelatin mixture. Fold into pudding. Refrigerate until slightly firm, about 30 minutes.
ASSEMBLY:
Spread cooled filling onto crust; top with mousse. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm. Garnish with chocolate curls and drizzle if desired.
Recipe from Taste of Home (Special Editions) - Cooking School Cookbook, Fall 2012

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcake and Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting



This post is dedicated to my dear friend Rachel, who is expecting her first baby (a boy!) in January. 
Rachel and I met in dental school, first person I really interacted with since we were in the same small group together. We hit it off pretty easily, having common grounds on a lot of things (including our love for The Amazing Race!). We hung out a lot during dental school, with our many weekend nights playing Euchre against our husbands. Since we both graduated dental school, we've moved to different places (although still within the same state) so we don't see each other as often as before... makes me miss her a lot.
When we (and by we I mean our small group of dental school friends) found out that she was pregnant, we offered to throw her a baby shower. Her mom was gracious enough to host the shower at her house. I jumped at the opportunity to bake the cupcakes for the party. I thought and thought of a cupcake flavor for her, and since the shower and baby room have a monkey theme, I thought banana would go well. I just had to make sure that she didn't have an aversion to bananas (she didn't), and it was all set. This "concoction" was a combination of different recipes I found and meshed together. The final product seemed to please everyone who tried it! Hope you enjoy it!!!
Banana Chocolate Chip Cupcakes
Yield: 30+ cupcakes

Ingredients:
-2½ cups all-purpose flour
-1 Tbsp baking powder
-½ tsp salt
-12 Tbsp (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
-2½ cups sugar
-6 eggs
-1 cup plus 2 Tbsp buttermilk
-1 1/3 cups mashed ripe banana
-1 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.  Line cupcake pans with paper liners.  In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt; whisk together and set aside.  
2. 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, about 2 minutes.  Reduce the mixer speed to medium low and add in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Mix in mashed banana until well combined.  With the mixer on low speed alternately add the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and mixing only until just incorporated.
3. Divide the batter between the prepared cupcake liners, filling each about 3/4 full.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 18-20 minutes.  Allow to cool in the pan 5-10 minutes, then transfer the cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:
-8oz cream cheese, room temperature
-1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-3-4 cups confectioners' sugar
-Garnish - banana chips

Directions:
1. In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth and creamy.
2. Add in cocoa powder and mix very well. Then add the confectioners' sugar, one cup at a time, until desired consistency. 
3. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Garnish the top with a whole banana chip (and eat the small chips!)

Cupcake recipe adapted from Annie's Eats
Frosting recipe adapted from Cupcake Project
Congratulations Rachel!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Roasted Banana Cupcake with Honey-Cinnamon Frosting


My, how time flies... it has been such a long time since I posted last in this blog. Here is a little update with my life in general: 
Daughter - she is an energetic three year old who owns every bit of the word "terrible threes"! Ok, that makes her sound bad... she is actually a sweetheart (most of the time), but when she wants something and doesn't get her way, watch out! She is slowly learning how to cope with the environment around her and not be so fiery at times. She is a wonderful big sister to her "new" little brother, always watching out for him and entertaining him when he is crying.
Son - he is about to turn 7 months this weekend. He is such a calm, laid back little guy. As long as you keep his tummy nice and full, he is all fun and smiles. He is rolling around very well, and we can see him wanting to crawl soon. I think that he will start to crawl just in time for Christmas decorations and tree :P
As for me? I went back to work at the end of June (coincidentally right around the time I stopped posting anything), but think we have finally settled into a new routine and things are not as crazy as before. Still very busy, but I think we can tread water better and not feel like we could drown at any minute!
So enough chit-chatting, here is a recipe I made during the summer, took pictures, but just didn't post: the banana is roasted prior to being mashed and added to the rest of the ingredients, so it has a sweeter, earthier taste. Now this frosting - it is just plain AWESOME! Sweet, but not too sweet. It compliments the cupcake super well!

Roasted Banana Cupcakes
Makes ~16 cupcakes
Ingredients:
-3 ripe bananas, plus 1-2 more for garnish
-2 cups cake flour (not self-rising), sifted
-1/2 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-3/4 tsp salt
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
-3/4 cup sugar
-3 large eggs
-1/2 cup sour cream
-1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
1. To roast the bananas: preheat oven to 400F. Place 3 whole unpeeled bananas on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes (the peels will turn a very dark brown, that's ok!). While the bananas are roasting, line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Also, sift together the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside. Once bananas are done, remove from oven and let cool before peeling. Reduce oven temperature to 350F.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add vanilla. Add roasted bananas, and beat to combine. Add flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of sour cream, and beating until just combined after each. 
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester (toothpick!) inserted in centers come out clean, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely. 
*Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Honey-Cinnamon Frosting
Ingredients:
-2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
-1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
-2 Tbsp honey
-1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:
With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat all ingredients until smooth. Use immediately, or refrigerate up to 5 days in an airtight container; before using, bring to room temperature and beat until smooth.