13 November 2010

Pumpkin-Pie-in-the-Middle Cupcakes

Please don't tell my mom; I skipped class to make these cupcakes. I was just having a rough day. My roommate in DC this summer, Beth, posted this recipe to my wall. I was so frustrated that I promptly skipped class, drove straight to Kroger, and set to work. It was exactly what I needed to make me feel in control of my life again. How does that always happen? Even better, these cupcakes were absolutely delicious, and obviously unique. Pumpkin pie IN a cupcake!? As my friend Mackey said "They solve the eternal debate over which is better, cake or pie."

Basically, the gist of this cupcake is the following: vanilla cream cheese cupcakes with a tiny pumpkin pie in the middle, topped with vanilla-cinnamon buttercream icing. AND THEY ARE DELICIOUS. The only major flaw with the design is that it's one of the more labor-intensive recipes I've undertaken, specifically because it's like you're making two separate desserts.

Also, I apologize for the really terrible quality of the cupcake picture uptop. I was (literally) running to my exec meeting when I realized I should probably photograph the cupcakes before they got eaten. To make up for it, I will give you a zillion pictures of my friends on APhiO's exec board devouring said cupcakes. You're welcome.

Pumpkin-Pie-in-the-Middle Cupcakes
Adapted from bakeitinacake.com

  • For the pumpkin pies:
- 1 box refrigerated pie crust
- 8 oz pumpkin
- 8 oz sweetened condensed milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger)
  • For the cupcakes:
- 1.5 sticks butter, at room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
- 1.5 c sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp baking powder
- .5 tsp baking soda
- .5 tsp salt
- 1.33 c whole milk
- 2.5 c flour
  • For the icing:
- 2 sticks of butter, room temperature
- 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
- 2 c powdered sugar
- vanilla extract and cinnamon to taste

To Make:
  • Pumpkin pies:
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Combine pumpkin and sweetened condensed milk in a bowl until fully incorporated. Add eggs, one at a time, then spices. Mix well.
- Using a juice glass, cut dough into small circles, and use them to line mini muffin cups. Fill each crust about 3/4 of the way full with the pumpkin mixture.
- Bake for 7 minutes, then reduce oven heat to 350 degrees F and continue baking for 10 more minutes, until the crusts are golden and the filling is set.
- Allow to cool 5 minutes before removing from mini muffin tins.
  • Cupcakes:
- Cream butter and cream cheese together for about 90 seconds, then add the sugar and mix well. Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- Add milk and flour, alternating between small amounts of the two until completely combined and smooth.
- Line regular muffin pans with paper liners. In each liner, place a heaping tablespoon of the batter. Place a pumpkin pie in each and gently push down (the pie should NOT touch the bottom of the pan). Place another heaping tablespoon of batter overtop of the pies, so that the top and sides aren't visible.
- Bake at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool 10+ minutes in the pans before removing to cool completely before frosting.
  • Icing:
- Cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.
- Add powdered sugar, incorporating by half cups, then vanilla and cinnamon.
- Chill before frosting.

Some Notes:
  • That pie filling is annoying. I used a full 16ish oz can of pumpkin because that's the smallest they sold and made it according to the back of the can, and I now have a ridiculous amount of excess filling chilling in my fridge. So, be warned, you will either have to throw out some perfectly good pie filling or do like I plan on, and make personal pumpkin pies in regular muffin tins. Yum!

26 August 2010

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Fudge

This is, by far, the fastest recipe I have ever posted on here. I get out of class at 3:30 pm. There is a 10 minute walk from Irvin to my apartment. This fudge was chilling in the fridge by 4:00 pm, on the dot. The only bad thing about this is that when I go to deliver this fudge to boys, they will know that I did not slave for hours over it. Oh well. They'll get over it. They have homemade fudge, after all.

Oh, speaking of my apartment, I AM BACK IN OXFORD! I am also living in an amazing apartment which has been christened The WeinDen (don't ask... it's not funny to anyone but us), with one of the loveliest girls I have ever met, Maggie. There is so much roomie love going on over here that it's almost nauseating. Almost.

Given my sah-weet digs, I would just like to reiterate my policy on visitors to The WeinDen: Yes, please. If you live in Oxford, you are nearly always welcome, so long as we are home and not napping. If you live outside the greater Ox Vegas area, I have a futon, a couch, and a comfy queen-sized bed. Take your pick. Also, I will make you the baked good of your choosing. So get on it!

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Fudge

  • 10 oz peanut butter chips
  • 14 oz sweetened condensed milk
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
To Make:
  1. Line 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper (Thank you to Julie for buying me my first roll as a going away present!)
  2. Melt in a saucepan over medium heat the peanut butter chips, 1 c sweetened condensed milk, and 2 tbsp butter until smooth. Pour into baking pan and spread evenly.
  3. Melt in another saucepan the remaining sweetened condensed milk, butter, and chocolate chips until smooth. Spread over peanut butter mixture. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Turn out of parchment paper and cut.
Some Notes:
  • Next time, I am going to vary it up by subbing some real peanut butter for a portion of the chips (and probably taking out the butter as well).

14 August 2010

Red Velvet Cupcakes (For Jazz Musicians)

Holly on the left, Bray on the right, yours truly in the middle.

Tibbs chowing down.

So, I'm back in the A-k-rowdy, at least for the moment. I've been here a week now, but there has been utter pandemonium with my dad moving into his new house, and trying to figure out where I'm stashing all my stuff, as well as catching up with just about everyone I ever knew in high school, and making some new friends along the way.

I've been restless lately, and everyone can see it. I cut and dyed my hair, got a new piercing (or two) and have been making some pretty poor decision-making as of late. I needed some centering, so when Brandy issued her cupcakes-at-Northside ultimatum, I jumped to comply.

Oh, and if you're unfamiliar with what Northside is, please allow me to enlighten you. The Northside, technically, is an almost-hole-in-the-wall bar in downtown Akron. On Wednesday nights, The Northside hosts an open-mic jazz workshop for the University students from 9 pm until midnight. If you're in the Akron area, GO! It's a great time. Afterwards, many of the musicians (with whom I've become friends because of my frequent attendance) go eat at Luigi's, next door.

They work hard, and hard work should be rewarded. Hence, cupcakes.

The actual text message conversation that begat the inception of these cupcakes (yep, big words... get over it):

Bray: Cupcakes, as promised, at Northside tonight?
Auds: Oh, damn. I forgot.
Bray: You have three hours. Make it happen.
Auds: Yes, ma'am.

In Brandy's defense, she did come over and help frost the cupcakes, as well as keep my company as I dyed my hair a color similar to red velvet. Holly Jane and Zoe were there too, ready and willing to steal half-made frosting, incubate my eggs to room temperature, and tell me that my hair looked fabulous. It's really why I keep them around... Kidding, of course.

Oh, and the cupcakes got rave reviews. :)

Red Velvet Cupcakes w/ Vanilla Icing
Adapted from More from Magnolia

For cupcakes-
  • 3 1/2 c cake flour
  • 1 1/2 stick butter (softened)
  • 2 c sugar
  • 3 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 2 1/2 tbsp red food coloring
  • 3 1/2 tbsp water (at room temperature)
  • 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 c buttermilk
  • 1 1/2 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda

For icing-
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 2 c milk
  • 2 c butter (softened)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cupcake pans with liners. Sift cake flour and set aside.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar for cupcakes on medium speed until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating in between.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together food coloring, water, cocoa powder, and vanilla. Add to the batter.
  4. Stir salt into buttermilk. Add in 3 parts, alternating with the cake flour, to the batter. In a small bowl, combine vinegar and baking soda. Add to batter, and mix well. Divide batter between cupcake tins.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a tester inserted into one of the cupcakes comes out clean. Allow to cool completely before frosting.
  6. In a medium saucepan, whisk together flour and milk for icing. Stir constantly over medium heat until the mixture becomes very thick (about 10 minutes). Cover with waxed paper placed directly on mixture and cool to room temperature (can be refrigerated to speed up the process).
  7. Beat the butter for the icing until it becomes smooth, about 5 minutes. Add sugar and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla. Beat again (it's a theme!)
  8. Add cooled milk mixture to butter mixture and beat for 5 minutes. Frost cupcakes immediately.
Some Notes:
  • As with most of the cupcakes I make, the frosting-cupcake ratio should be at LEAST 1-1. If you're going to eat a Pastry Flower dessert, expect to go into a sugar comatose directly after. But really, more is better when it comes to icing on these cupcakes.
  • And don't be deterred by the complexity of the icing. It was better than ANY store-bought.

03 August 2010

"Everything Nice" Muffins

... nom...

When I started baking, it was out of necessity. It was the winter of 2005, just after Christmas, and I was battling terrible insomnia and slight depression. It was awful. I would spend hours sitting, staring at my computer, updating Facebook, lying on my carpet wishing that I could sleep. One night, I wandered down to the still-set-up Christmas tree and started sifting through the gifts that I'd received. One of those gifts was Mollie Katzen's Sunlight Cafe, still one of my favorite cookbooks today. After everyone else was asleep, I would sneak downstairs and, as quietly as possible, bake the easiest things from the cookbook with whatever happened to be around in the kitchen. Invariably, after each recipe was finished, I would crash immediately upon my bed, or the couch, or the rug in our kitchen... whatever happened to be easiest. A love of baking was born, alongside a coping mechanism.

To this day, I can tell when I'm verging upon emotional instability when I start itching to break out my pans. It's not only something to do to pass the time; it's also one of the few times when I don't let the opinions of others dictate my actions, when I have overwhelming self-confidence and a can-do attitude, and when, even in the midst of emotional quicksand, I can dance around the kitchen, singing into a whisk and everything is right in my life. The process takes as long as it takes; I can't speed it up or slow it down, even if I wanted to. And, best of all, my friends love me for it. When these muffins came out of the oven, my roommate Beth came into the kitchen and said, point blank, "I could kiss you right now. But I think you'd be weirded out."

Sugar and Spice ("Everything Nice") Muffins
Adapted from Gourmet

  • 1 c flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1/4 c butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 c milk
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 6 muffin cups with liners.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. In another bowl, cream together sugar and butter. Beat in egg. Add dry ingredients to wet ones and beat until combined. Add milk and stir until just combined.
  3. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in small bowl.
  4. Spoon batter into cups half full. Sprinkle some of the brown sugar and cinnamon on top of batter. Spoon more batter into cups (until 5/6 full) and top with remaining brown sugar/cinnamon mixture.
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Some Notes:
  • Next time, I will sub brown sugar for the white sugar in the batter.
  • Also, next time, I'm going to make extra sugar/cinnamon mixture and put more inside the muffins.
  • These muffins are not overwhelmingly sweet, but I like them that way.

01 August 2010

Kevin and Susan's Joint Birthday Cake!

Oh, how I wish I had my pastry bags...

In honor of the days-of-birth of my super Canadian roommate and my friend Kevin, I decided to make a cake. And yes, I'm aware that this cake is pink. To Kevin, I apologize, but it tastes delicious so I'm pretty sure he didn't mind much. Anyway, a very, very happy birthday to two of my good friends down here!

The birfday boy and girl, respectively.

A short sidenote: I leave DC in 6 days, and all the friends that I have made here will be scattered across the continent. I want to thank you all for making this summer amazing. I will honestly miss you. All of you. Even the ones I complain about. Really. Truf.

So, this cake is the very first undertaking of a significantly difficult recipe since being in DC, mostly because I was getting sick of making cookies. It involved buying several kitchen utensils to add to my arsenal back home, and making up a significant part of this recipe. For being a brand new recipe, mostly made-up using techniques from other recipes I've tried in the past, this cake turned out FABULOUSLY. I felt almost like a real pastry chef... hahahaha... right. I definitely lamented not having my pastry bags and decorating tips down here with me though... The finished product was pretty, no doubt, but being the perfectionist I am, I wish I hadn't just had to use ziplocs. Sigh.

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Cream Frosting and Chocolate Sauce

(For cake)
  • 1 c sugar
  • 3/4 c flour
  • 1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c fresh-brewed coffee
  • 1/2 c whole milk
  • 1/3 c vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
(For frosting)
  • 6 oz fresh raspberries
  • 2 tbsp light brown suga
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 3/4 c whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
(For chocolate sauce)
  • 1/4 c whipping cream
  • 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 4.5 in x 8.5 in loaf pan with nonstick spray and dust with cocoa powder.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the first 6 ingredients for the cake. In another bowl, combine coffee, milk, oil, eggs and vanilla, and beat to blend. Pour wet ingredients into the dry ones, and stir until just combined. Pour into floured pan and bake for 35 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pan for 20 minutes, then invert onto cake tray and cool completely before frosting.
  3. In a small saucepan, mash together brown sugar, raspberries, and lemon juice. Cook on low heat, stirring for 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and push raspberry mixture through a sieve to remove seeds (what is left should be raspberry juice, basically). Add cornstarch to the juice, and cook on medium heat in saucepan for 5-7 minutes. Remove and refrigerate until very chilled.
  4. In a refrigerated bowl, combine whipping cream for frosting, powdered sugar, and about 1/3 of the raspberry sauce. Whip until stiffer than you would want whipped cream to be. Fold in another 1/3 of the raspberry sauce.
  5. In a double boiler, combine the whipping cream for chocolate sauce and chocolate chips until melted. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, and then spoon into a pastry bag.
  6. Okay, now it's time to assemble the cake! Frost the completely cooled cake with the raspberry cream frosting, and chill for 10 minutes more. Drizzle with the chocolate sauce and the rest of the raspberry sauce. Chill until ready to serve.
I put the 'mess' in 'domestic'.

29 July 2010

Raspberry Chocolate Clafoutis

I love this last photo. It makes me drool.

Clafoutis: the dish so nice, I made it twice... in the span of two weeks. Okay, that was cheesy. I apologize. I'm not going to lie; clafoutis are easy, delicious, versatile, and can sort of pass as breakfast food when I'm running out the door in the morning. Ahem. Also, I just plain love anything chocolatey, and since the HUGE power outage that knocked out the power for something like 300,000 houses in our area, I've been looking to use the defrosted frozen (previously fresh) berries that have been sitting in my fridge.

This is me being industrious and delicious AT THE SAME TIME. Admit it; I'm awesome.

I think my roommates are FINALLY getting used to my style of baking (aka loud music, dancing, godawful singing, and a huge mess everywhere... hey, I never claimed to be the prettiest baker to ever hit the interwebs). Cassie even asked... okay, who the hell am I kidding? Cassie DEMANDED to help me mix the batter, in between screaming at the new episode of Jersey Shore. I live in a mental asylum, but at least it's interesting. :)

Also, for the first time, I let the gods of last.fm decide upon my musical selection while baking. Laaaaazy. I just used the "Play Your Library" function, and it spit out a great mix, which I will now enumerate. Those who care, feel free to add me as a last.fm friend! --> http://www.last.fm/user/alynnhouse
Those who don't, feel free to skip ahead.

1) "The Resistance" - Anberlin
2) "Cuddle Fuddle" - Passion Pit
3) "Are You Sleeping?" - Harry Nilsson
4) "Crush'd" - Say Anything
5) "Tidal" - Imogen Heap
6) "Are You With Me" - Vaux

Primo jumping around the kitchen music. :)

ANYWAY... on to the actual recipe. This recipe, it turns out, is NOTHING like the other clafoutis recipe I posted. This dessert is very much a dessert; it's very rich and sweet and tangy (thanks to the raspberries). The texture is much more like a custard (thanks, I'm sure, to the whole milk and less eggs). Still, this recipe is absolutely a keeper, just for a different purpose. Yum!

Raspberry Chocolate Clafoutis
Adapted from Gourmet

  • 12 oz raspberries
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1/3 c flour
  • 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 c whole milk
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 oz semisweet chocolate, roughly chopped
To Make:
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray baking dish (I used the infamous casserole dish, but I'm sure any would work) with nonstick spray.
  2. Toss raspberries with sugar and set aside.
  3. Combine all remaining ingredients EXCEPT chocolate, beating until smooth.
  4. Spread raspberry mixture evenly in bottom of baking dish. Pour batter over raspberries.
  5. Bake for 35 minutes (SEE NOTES) until puffed up. Remove and immediately scatter chocolate over the top. Cool for at least 20 minutes.
Some Notes:
  • Next time I am absolutely going to butter the dish instead of nonstick-spraying it. It created the best crust on my last clafoutis.
  • I would definitely recommend lengthening the baking time by at least 5 minutes on this dish. It didn't firm up the way I expected it would... nothing like my last clafoutis. I think this was probably because the raspberries I used were much juicier than the cherries. Although this clafoutis was cooked through, it was the most custard-like around the edges.
  • Next time I might also use bittersweet chocolate, like the original recipe called for, instead of semisweet. The semisweet and the raspberries together were a bit much. It would have been nice to have the bite of bittersweet.

24 July 2010

Cookies 'n' Creme Fudge

If there's anything that I love, love, L-O-V-E, it would have to be fudge. I think I could eat fudge every day for the rest of my life and be completely content with it. So many variations, so much delicious.

It's been hot like Hell in DC this weekend, with temperatures hitting 104. So what did I do all day today? Well, I trekked around the hot and humid streets of DC, hitting museums and searching out food with Jack Licata... in retrospect, not a good decision on our parts. I got sunburnt and dehydrated, and was in no shape to do anything productive this afternoon. I'd been wanting to make fudge for a while, and my roommate Cassie INSISTED on me varying up the flavor. She helped me find a recipe for cookies 'n' creme fudge, and I ran with it.

Cookies 'n' Creme Fudge

  • 12 oz. white chocolate
  • 12 oz. sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 2 c. roughly chopped chocolate cookies
To Make:
  1. In a saucepan, over medium-low heat, combine white chocolate, condensed milk and salt. Stir until smooth.
  2. Fold in the cookies.
  3. Line a baking pan with foil, and spread the mixture into the pans. Chill for at least two hours. Turn the fudge out onto a cutting board, and remove the foil.
Some Notes:
  • Eliminate crumbs when chopping the cookies. They discolor the fudge.
  • Be very, very careful to stir the white chocolate constantly while melting, and not to allow it to burn. The mixture can go from beautiful to disaster in seconds.
  • This is such a basic recipe, and so easy to make, I am definitely going to get creative with flavor combinations in the future! Be ready for some weird fudge flavors coming out of this kitchen.