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Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes

22 Apr

How cute are ice cream sundae cupcakes?  I was looking for something simple, but a little different recently for a coworkers birthday and I decided to make a variation of ice cream sundae cupcakes.  The main variation is that I didn’t include cherries on top, though that would have made them look significantly more like sundaes.  My reasoning – coworker isn’t a fan so why would I do that?!  Considering I do not like cherries I wasn’t too heartbroken 🙂

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes

Ingredients:
For the Cupcakes
2¼ cups cake flour (9 ounces), plus more for dusting the pans
1 cup + 2 tablespoons whole milk, at room temperature
6 large egg whites (¾ cup), at room temperature
2 teaspoons almond extract
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (11.35 ounces)
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon table salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1½ sticks), softened but still cool

For the Frosting
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 pound (4 cups) powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Ganache
1 bag good quality milk chocolate chips

Directions:
For the Cupcakes
Set oven rack in middle position.  Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake wells with cupcake liners.

Pour milk, egg whites, and extracts into 2-cup glass measure, and mix with fork until blended.

Mix cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of electric mixer at slow speed. Add butter; continue beating at slow speed until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no powdery streaks remaining.

Add all but ½ cup of milk mixture to crumbs and beat at medium speed (or high speed if using handheld mixer) for 1½ minutes. Add remaining ½ cup of milk mixture and beat 30 seconds more. Stop mixer and scrape sides of bowl. Return mixer to medium (or high) speed and beat 20 seconds longer.

Divide batter evenly between cupcake wells, about 2/3 full.  Arrange pans at least 3 inches from the oven walls and 3 inches apart. (If oven is small, place pans on separate racks in staggered fashion to allow for air circulation.) Bake until thin skewer or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 23 to 25 minutes for full size cupcakes (15-18 for mini cupcakes)

Let cakes rest in pans for 3 minutes before removing and leaving to cool on wire racks.

 For the frosting
With an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

Reduce speed to medium and add the sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.  After every two additions, raise speed to high and beat 10 seconds to aerate frostong, then return to medium.

Add vanilla, and beat until frosting is smooth.

For the Ganache

Melt chocolate chips on medium power in a microwave safe bowl, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.

For assembly

Top the center of each cooled cupcake with about 3/4-1 tablespoon melted chocolate, allowing to spread a little before topping with frosting.  To frost use a pastry bag with a large round opening tip, such as Wilton #1A.  Garnish with sprinkles, chopped nuts, cherries, etc. as desired.

Sources: Cupcakes – adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles    Frosting – Martha Stewart Cupcakes   Ganache – original “recipe”

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream

17 Feb

Ever since I made cookies & cream cupcakes I’ve been craving anything Oreo.  I do that though – as soon as I have a bite of anything Oreo or Cookies & Cream I need more.  Rather than just eat the leftover Oreo’s straight out of the packaging with a glass of cold milk I decided to actually make something with them.  The weather was starting to warm up so why not make Cookies & Cream Ice Cream to bring myself out of the funk this winter has brought on to most of us this year.

I’ve made Cookies & Cream Ice Cream with a basic vanilla ice cream base, just folding in some chopped Oreo’s but I decided this time to look for an actual recipe.  I’m glad I did because while my old version was good, this was much better.  It’s exactly what I look for in a Cookies & Cream Ice Cream.

Cookies and Cream Ice Cream
Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk
2 cups heavy whipping cream
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
15-20 Oreo cookies, coarsely chopped

Directions:
Combine the milk and cream in a saucepan over medium heat.  Heat until bubbles form around the edges.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and sugar until smooth and well combined.  Slowly add the warm milk mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.

Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.   Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, about 5-8 minutes, until the mixture is thickened and coats the back of a spoon (about 175 degrees F on an instant read thermometer).  Pour the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until completely chilled.

Once the mixture is well chilled, pour into an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Once the mixture is softly frozen, transfer half of it to a storage container.  Add half of the chopped Oreo pieces and fold in gently with a rubber spatula.  Add the remaining ice cream and Oreo pieces to the container, and fold once more until the mixture is evenly combined.  Freeze until completely hardened.

Source: As Seen onAnnie’s Eats, adapted from Pennies on a Platter

Homemade Chocolate Pudding & a Special Craving!

18 Jan

I know, I know – I’ve been slacking!  But, I assure you, it’s for a very good cause.   Rob and I are having a baby!  Our first child is due June 27, 2011 and we couldn’t be more excited!  I’ve been feeling great, in relation to how I expected to feel, however I’ve just been exhausted.  I haven’t stopped cooking and baking, though admittedly I have slowed down a bit.  However, the lack of blogging lately is just due to pure laziness.  As I mentioned, I’ve been exhausted, so I either didn’t feel like taking pictures of my food, or if I did take pictures they still need to be loaded and/or edited before I can post.

Though we don’t know the sex yet, this baby definitely takes after daddy, or is all girl, because I’ve been having some major chocolate cravings.  Chocolate has never been my go-to flavor choice, though I don’t dislike it, but the last few months I’ve been wanting it all.the.time.  However, not just any chocolate – I want soft and creamy chocolate – pudding, ice cream, hot chocolate, chocolate milk, “leftover” cake and cupcake frosting, etc.

In honor of Baby S., I want to share with you this amazing homemade chocolate pudding recipe I stumbled across while enjoying a breakfast drink (chocolate flavor, of course!)  as a snack at work and poking around the inter-webs.  To be honest, pudding has never been something I’ve thought of making on my own until I started craving it – but believe me, this recipe will definitely get some good use when this baby starts begging for pudding when it’s older!  I saw numerous recipes that were more like custards and mousses (many of which I bookmarked for later!) but I just wanted a basic, aka quick, chocolate pudding.  This recipe did not disappoint.  Silky, creamy, rich but not heavy, and, of course – chocolaty!!

Silky Chocolate Pudding

Ingredients:
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups whole milk (I used 1% milk for a lighter version and it was still a-maz-ing!)
6 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:
Combine the cornstarch, sugar and salt in the top of a double boiler. Slowly whisk in the milk, scraping the bottom and sides with a heatproof spatula to incorporate the dry ingredients. Place over gently simmering water and stir occasionally, scraping the bottom and sides. Use a whisk as necessary should lumps begin to form. After 15 to 20 minutes, when the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of the spoon, add the chocolate. Continue stirring for about 2 to 4 minutes, or until the pudding is smooth and thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a serving bowl or into individual serving dishes.

Place plastic wrap on top of the pudding and smooth it gently against the surface before refrigerating. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

Source:  adapted from Smitten Kitchen, as found on The Wednesday Chef, originally from The Essence of Chocolate, by John Scharffenberger

Gooey Butter Cookies

17 Dec

For those of us in St. Louis, Gooey Butter Cake and Cookies are everywhere; especially this time of year around the holidays.  However, thanks to the genius of the interwebs, Gooey Butter Cake and Gooey Butter Cookies are becoming more well known.  The very first post I did on this site was dedicated to a Holiday Baking day with the women in my family (which is an annual tradition that I look forward to every year!).

One of the recipes I included was Gooey Butter Cookies, but I have decided to repost the recipe.  First of all, I highly doubt anyone will go far enough in to the depth of this blog to find this fantastic recipe, and secondly, I have since starting making these cookies on my own, with different flavor variations that I wanted to share.  Third, when reposting I noticed that I missed an ingredient in the original posting, plus it was very bulleted and non conversational.

Gooey Butter Cookies
Ingredients:
1 egg
1 box yellow cake mix
1 (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
1 stick softened butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Powdered sugar for rolling and dusting

Directions:
In a large bowl with a mixer, cream together butter and cream cheese until smooth.  Beat in the egg, then beat in the extract.  Beat in the cake mix.  Cover and refrigerate until firm enough to roll (2 hours to overnight if preparing in advance).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place powdered sugar in a bowl set to the side.  Roll chilled dough in to tablespoon size balls and then in the powdered sugar.  Place on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart and bake 12 minutes.  The cookies will remain soft and gooey.  Cool completely and sprinkle with extra powdered sugar if desired.


Variations:
I have made these cookies in the traditional butter flavor, but have started making them in different varieties.


Mint Chocolate:
Use chocolate fudge cake mix and swap out the vanilla extract for mint extract


Red Velvet:
Use Red Velvet cake mix


Snickerdoodle
Use a Cinnamon Swirl cake mix and roll in cinnamon sugar instead.  Or, use a butter cake mix and mix in 2 teaspoons cinnamon and roll in cinnamon sugar


Cinnamon Spice Cheesecake Layer Cake

16 Dec

When looking for cheesecake ideas online, I stumbled across this delicious looking cheesecake on Erin’s Food Files.  A red velvet cake with a NY Cheesecake middle layer!  I immediately wanted to make it knowing it would impress, however I was not feeling Red Velvet.  Knowing that the holidays were right around the corner and that I had a few Red Velvet desserts planned, I decided to switch up the cake, using the same basic idea overall though.  I love cinnamon flavors, especially this time of year so I looked for a Cinnamon Spice cake that would pair well with a cheesecake middle layer.

Once finding the recipe I wanted to go with I was so excited to try this cake out.  Disappoint it did not!  Although the picture above is not fantastic (I didn’t have time to take any pictures before serving, and this was the one last slice leftover for Rob and I to share – which I dropped) I couldn’t wait to share this fantasticness with my friends and readers.  Two (well, three with the frosting) relatively simple recipes combined to make one show-stopping dessert.

Cinnamon Spice Cheesecake Layer Cake
Ingredients:
For the cheesecake:
20 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1/2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream

For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened, plus more for buttering the parchment paper
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon (original recipe calls for 3/4 teaspoon which wasn’t enough for me!)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

For the frosting:
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
12 oz. butter, softened
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups powdered sugar

Directions:
For the cheesecake:
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Set a kettle of water to boil.  Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl.  Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy.  Beat in lemon zest and juice, and salt.  Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition.  Beat in sour cream.

Cut parchment paper in a circle and line the bottom of the spring-form pan.  Wrap bottom half of the pan in foil.  Pour in filling; place in a roasting pan.  Pour in boiling water to come halfway up side of spring-form.  Bake until just set in center, about 45 minutes.  remove pan from water, let cool 20 minutes.  Run a pairing knife around  edge; let cool completely.  Cover; chill overnight.

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans.  Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper.  Dust the pans with flour, tapping out the excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour with the cake flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter with sugar at medium speed until  fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in the eggs and vanilla until incorporated.  In 3 alternating additions, add the dry ingredients and sour cream, scraping down the side of the bowl between additions.

Scrape the batter evenly into the prepared pans.  Bake the cakes on the lower and middle racks of the oven for about 30 minutes, until golden and springy and the edges begin to pull away from the sides of the pan.  Transfer the cakes to racks and let cool for 15 minutes, then turn the cakes out and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment paper.

For the frosting:
Beat cream cheese, butter and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined.  Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes.

For assembly:
Place bottom layer on cake stand.  remove cheesecake from pan and remove metal bottom and parchment paper.  Place cheesecake layer on the top of the bottom layer of the cake.  If the cheesecake is wider than the cake, trim it with a knife.

Place top layer of cake on top of the cheesecake.  Coat with a generous layer frosting to act as the crumb coat.  Refrigerate about 30 minutes then frost with as much of the remaining frosting as desired.  Top with garnish of your choice.  I sprinkled cinnamon over the top, and lined the bottom with cinnamon sticks.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  The cake does not have to be kept in the fridge until immediately before serving.  It’s OK to sit out a bit!

Sources:
Cheesecake, Frosting, Concept: Erin’s Food Files, originally adapted from Apple a Day and Martha Stewart 
Cinnamon Cake: Food and Wine

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling

12 Oct
Fall is without a doubt my favorite season.  The list of things I love about fall is pretty long:
  • Mums
  • Fall Decorations
  • Halloween and all that implies
  • The smell – leaves, grass, pumpkin and cinnamon candles…
  • Fall foliage
  • Baseball playoffs – when the Cardinals are actually in it 😦
  • HOCKEY SEASON!!
  • Hoodies in the evening
  • Open windows in the house and while driving
  • Curling up on the weekends with a hot drink and a good book or uber-girlie movie
  • Yoga pants and long sleeve t-shirts all weekend long
  • Bulky cardigans
  • and most importantly – THE FOOD!!!

Fall weather has been hit or miss here this year, but that doesn’t deter me from participating in some seasonal baking and cooking.  One of the first seasonal inspired items I’ve baked were these Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with a Maple Cream Cheese Filling.  If you like pumpkin you definitely need to try these.  They’re sweet and spicy, the perfect combination for Fall, and then you add a little maple syrup cream cheese filling and they’re positively decadent.  
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Filling 

Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
2 TBSP cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground fresh nutmeg
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 cup canola oil
3 cups chilled pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare to baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and spices. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk to sugars and oil together. Add the pumpkin puree and whisk to combine thoroughly.  
Add the eggs and vanilla and whisk until combined.  Sprinkle the flour mixture over the pumpkin mixture and whisk until completely combined.

Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to drop heaping TBSP of the dough onto the prepared baking sheets, about 1 inch apart.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, until the cookies are just starting to crack on top and a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool completely on the pan while you make the filling. They will look more like mini cakes then cookies, so don’t panic about that.

Maple Syrup Cream Cheese Filling
Ingredients:
3 cups powdered sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
3 TBSP maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla

Directions:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth with no visible lumps. Add the cream cheese an beat until combined.

Add the powdered sugar, maple syrup and vanilla and beat until smooth. Be careful no to overbeat the filling, or it will lose structure.

To assemble Whoopie Pies:Turn half the cooled cookies upside down. Pipe filling (about a TBSP) onto that half. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top of the filling. Press down slightly so that the filling spread to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Put the whoopie pies in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to firm before serving.

Chocolate Sauce and Semi-Homemade Chocolate Angel Food Cake

14 Aug

I have no aversion to semi-homemade meals (minus Sandra Lee’s “tablescapes” – seriously?!), however if I’m going to use a box mix, frozen something, etc. I like to add something special to the plate.

Recently I was making a Chocolate Angel Food Cake and while I love chocolate angel food cupcakes from scratch, I just didn’t feel like separating a dozen eggs.  I looked in to doctoring up boxed cake mixes and found that you can easily add in cocoa powder to a boxed angel food cake mix and bake as directed.  Score!!  At the end of the day – I may have enjoyed this recipe more than the one from scratch.

That being said, as I mentioned above, I like to add a little something special.  I was not able to attend the party at which the cake was served (thankfully a slice of cake was saved for me), so I wanted something simple and easily transportable to add that special touch.  While the cake was baking I happened to be looking through The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz and I saw this recipe for a super simple chocolate sauce that I thought would go really well with this cake.  Not only was it fantastic with the cake, it was just as delicious with ice cream (a given as it was found in an ICE CREAM recipe book).  This was so easy – I don’t think I’ll ever buy packaged chocolate sauce again!  I will admit though that I made a pretty hefty adaptation though – the original recipe doesn’t call for sugar, but I felt like it needed some sweetness for my purposes.

“Lean” Chocolate Sauce
Ingredients:
2 cups water
1 cup unsweetened Dutch-process  cocoa powder
1 cup light corn syrup
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used semisweet)
1/3 cup sugar

Directions:
Whisk the water, cocoa powder, corn syrup and sugar together in a saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to very low and simmer 3 minutes, stirring frequently.  Remove from the heat and add in the chocolate pieces, stirring until melted and smooth.  Serve warm.

Tip: This sauce can be stored in the fridge for up to 2-weeks.  Rewarm it gently in a microwave or by stirring in a saucepan over very low heat.

Semi-Homemade Chocolate Angel Food Cake
Ingredients:
1 box Angel Food Cake Mix
1/2 cup cocoa powder

Directions:
Combine cake mix and cocoa powder in a mixing bowl.  Prepare and bake as directed on cake mix packaging. Garnish as desired.

Sources:
Sauce: adapted from The Perfect Scoop, David Lebovitz
Cake: Nestle Toll House