Desserts

Dessert Recipes

An Apple Cupcake a Day…

I received a cookbook a few months ago, Little Cakes from the Whimsical Bakehouse, that has some of the cutest little cakes and cupcakes I’ve ever seen.

However, most of them require an incredible amount of time, experience and ingredients.  I found these popcorn ones to be especially cute.  You actually have to make the little cups from chocolate with those silicone cupcake cups and paint the red stripes.  Who has that kind of time?  One cupcake did jump out at me, a basket-full of apples.  The outside of the cupcake is piped in a basketweave and then you pipe and pile little apples on top!

They would be great “back-to-school” treats, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to pull them off at the beginning of the school year without pulling my hair out and driving myself crazy trying to get them perfect and finished.

I wanted to do something with an apple theme to give my co-workers to start the school year.  I remember seeing an apple cupcake in a Martha Stewart magazine a while back that was iced in a vibrant red and boasted a chocolate covered pretzel stem and a cute green candy leaf…but I couldn’t find an article on how they were made.  I finally came across a blog by a woman who’d also seen the magazine, but I didn’t get much more help except that I found out that Martha used green sour tape candy for the leaf.  I couldn’t find the candy, so I figured that I try my hand at using fondant.  My sister Sarah had conveniently planned a trip to Waco on Saturday, so she helped me create these adorable cupcakes!  We baked the cupcakes (from a mix…yikes!) the night before.  In the morning we made the House Buttercream from the Whimsical Bakelouse cookbook.  Sarah and I were both surprised by the method she uses.  Can anyone explain to me the purpose of adding boiling water?  Anyway, We colored the frosting red.  Ok, so we tried to color it red.  I used quite a bit of my Wilton no-taste red color gel but it never got to the vibrant apple red I wanted.  It also got a little streaky in color.  But we decided that they looked like galas and therefore more authentic.  I frosted the cupcakes normally.  Then we stuck chocolate covered pretzel sticks in the center as a stem.

Now for the leaves.  I bought white fondant and colored it with Wiltons leaf green gel and added a bit of almond extract hoping to help the flavor of the fondant…no such luck.  It still tastes like stale sugary icky paste.  We rolled out the fondant and used a small leaf cookie cutter to make the leaves.

Sarah placed all the leaves in a lovely artistic manner on our little creations and they were complete!  I could not stop looking at them and thinking about how cute they looked all together.  Is it bad to be proud of something like this?

Coconut Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Icing

Being a lover of coconut, I have been wanting to find a coconut cupcake recipe for a while now.  I found two recipes that sounded equally delicious, how is a girl to choose?  I chose based on the fact that I had all the ingredients for one recipe, and not for the other!

I also liked that this recipe uses coconut milk which adds an unobtrusive yet rich coconut flavor. 

There is sweetened dessicated coconut in the batter that adds some texture to the cake itself which is a nice contrast to the smooth icing.  I toasted some coconut to sprinkle on top of the cupcakes.  The toasted brown color visually contrasts the bright white icing and creates yet another layer of texture in each bite.

The cake itself has a dense almost poundcake like texture.  This may be due to the fact that I committed a culinary sin with this recipe; I failed to read through the recipe before beginning.  I began as I normally would with a cupcake.  Cream butter, add sugar and cream…now this is where my brain decided that “cream” meant coconut milk instead of cream as in “To rub or work soft butter, sometimes with sugar, against the sides of a bowl until creamy or fluffy.” As I add in the milk I start to think to myself, this doesn’t seem quite right.  This is the time (too late) that I read through the recipe and realize my fatal error! Here is the batter at this point…

I make the decision to keep going and challenge this baking rule of mixing technique.  If I’d followed the recipe correctly I might have ended up with a different cupcake…but these were just fine!

This recipe is written as it should be.  If you’d like to try my method, I’ve included that as an alternate set of instructions below the recipe.

Coconut Cupcakes

Cupcake Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 cup of canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups of flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened desiccated coconut

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick), room temperature
  • 8 oz of Philly cream cheese (1 package), room temperature
  • 1/2-1 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened desiccated coconut toasted for sprinkling

Cupcakes

1 Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and cream till light and fluffy again, scraping down the sides halfway through to ensure even mixing.

2 Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each to ensure mixing. Be sure to scrape down the sides after each egg to ensure even mixing.

3 Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in one bowl. In another add 1 cup of a well shaken can of coconut milk and a teaspoon of vanilla. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients and mix, then add 1/2 of the wet ingredients. Continue alternating with the wet and dry mixtures, ending with the dry. Stop mixing once just as the ingredients become incorporated; do not overbeat.

4 Fold in the coconut. Scoop into cupcake papers about one half to three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan after the first 15 to ensure even baking. Be sure to check with a toothpick to see if the cupcakes are done. If the toothpick comes out of the cupcake clean, then they’re ready. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute or two in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Frosting

1 Cream the butter and cream cheese together, about 3 minutes. Scraped down the sides and bottom.

2 Slowly add the powdered sugar, taste as you go adding more sugar until you have reached the desired sweetness.

3 Spread onto cooled cupcakes. Sprinkle toasted coconut on top and serve.

Makes 18-20 cupcakes.

“Carrie can’t read the directions” Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Add sugar and coconut milk and mix thoroughly, scraping down the sides halfway through to ensure even mixing.

2 Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds each to ensure mixing. Be sure to scrape down the sides after each egg to ensure even mixing.

3 Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in one bowl.  Add dry ingredients and mix on low.  Stop mixing once just as the ingredients become incorporated; do not overbeat.

4 Fold in the coconut. Scoop into cupcake papers about one half to three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 18-22 minutes, rotating the pan after the first 15 to ensure even baking. Be sure to check with a toothpick to see if the cupcakes are done. If the toothpick comes out of the cupcake clean, then they’re ready. Allow the cupcakes to cool for a minute or two in the pan, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Accidental Peach Cobbler

I bought peaches for a dinner party a few nights ago.  My plan was to cut them in half, remove the pit, sprinkle with some brown sugar, broil them and serve with Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla ice cream…tada!  The easiest dessert next to scooping ice cream from a carton into a bowl!  I will have to try this another time. Due to the extreme fun of the evening as it progressed, dessert became an afterthought and I found myself with 6 beautiful peaches and not a thing to do with them.  The wheels start turning and I raid my kitchen…a container of blackberries…butter…sugar… it shall be a COBBLER!  I usually end up making crisps, with oats and pecans.  I wanted to try more of a cake or biscuit type topping for this dessert just to shake things up.  After all, I am a culinary rebel.  I referenced a few different recipes and came up with this one.  I must admit, this was delicious despite the fact that I kinda burt the topping 🙂  Here are the changes I would make for future cobbler endeavors.

1.  Add 1 more containers of blackberries unless you don’t like seeds, just add more peaches

2.  A teaspoon or so more cornstarch to counter the slight soupiness

3.  Don’t let Ben have any…more for me

Peach Blackberry Cobbler

4-6 fresh peaches peeled, pitted and sliced

1 (or 2) containers fresh blackberries

1/4 cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 t lemon juice

3 t cornstarch (will try 4 next time)

1/2 t cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and pour into a 2 quart casserole.  Cook for 10 minutes in 400 oven.

1 cup flour

1/2 cup white sugar (or use half brown, half white)

1 1/2 t baking powder

1/2 t salt

6 T cold butter cut into cubes

1/4 cup boiling water

Combine all ingredients through salt in a large bowl.  Using a pastry blender or your hands, cut butter into flour mixture until the butter is in small pieces and the mixture resembles a coarse meal.  Mix in water until just combined.  Take casserole out of the oven and drop dough on top of the fruit in mounds.  Sprinkle top of cobbler with a few tablespoons of white sugar and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.  Top should be lightly browned and fruit bubbly.

Motorcycle Cake Update

I completely forgot to post the picture of the completed motorcycle cake we had made for my Dad’s 60th birthday!  It was a hit and my Dad really liked the cake.  It was quite impressive AND it tasted great as well…a tough thing to do with cake 🙂  Here are a few pictures and the link to the bakery in Austin who made the cake.  I highly recommend this bakery.  We had the Valrhona chocolate cake and vanilla buttercream…delicious!

http://www.cocopalomadesserts.com

Nutter Butters

I found this recipe from cookiemadness.net who got it from a New York Times article about Bouchon Bakery.  I also found reference to these copy-cat Nutter Butters on a site I just found called dessertbuzz.com which reviews New York City desserts.  Anyway, I like the Nabisco version, so I thought it would be fun to try this recipe.  The cookies are easy to make and very yummy even without the peanut butter filling.  They are salty and sweet and have great texture.  The humidity in Texas was not kind to the cookies after a few days in the tupperware.  They lost a little crunch but still taste great.  Be sure to place the cookies far enough apart or they will join forces and become a giant monster cookie than must be consumed by its maker 🙂  These cookies don’t taste exactly like a real Nutter Butter…and that’s ok by me.  They taste more homemade, and that’s a good thing.

HALF BATCH BOUCHON BAKERY’S ‘NUTTER BUTTERS

Cookie Dough:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter, preferably Skippy
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts (omitted and used crunchy peanut butter)
1 1/4 cups quick-cooking oats

Cookie Filling:
4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter, preferably Skippy
3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar plus a tiny bit more if needed

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Prepare Dough:
In a bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and baking soda; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter and peanut butter. Add sugars and beat at medium speed for 3-4 minutes, scraping down bowl twice.

At low speed, add egg and vanilla. Add flour mixture and stir until well mixed, frequently scraping down bowl. Add peanuts (if using) and oats, and mix well. Using an ice cream scoop 2 inches in diameter or an extremely heaping tablespoon, place balls of dough on parchment-lined baking sheets at least three inches apart.

Bake until cookies have spread and turned very light golden brown, about 10-14 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool and firm up, 5 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely before filling.

TO PREPARE THE FILLING:
Using an electric mixer, cream together the butter, peanut butter and confectioners’ sugar until very smooth.

TO ASSEMBLE COOKIES:
Spread a thin layer (about 1/8 inch) on underside of a cookie. Sandwich with another cookie. Repeat.

Makes 12 large cookies (I ended up with about 18 cookies)

Blackberry Pie Bars

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My mother in law gave me a cookbook for Christmas…Rebecca Rather’s cookbook The Pasty Queen. I’m really starting to believe that rather haughty moniker of hers! I’ve made about 5 of the recipes from the cookbook including the chocolate chip and sugar cookies. Both were quite tasty. Not as good as the cookies I ate from the bakery itself, Rather Sweet in Frederickburg, but still very good and not too difficult for the home baker. These bars sounded pretty decadent (3 sticks of butter in the crust alone!) and also pretty delicious. I love fruit desserts because it makes me feel like I’m eating something healthy, ha, so I decided to give these a try. They were easy to put together and everything in the recipe turned out great…except the baking time. I used a 9×13 glass pan and baked the bars for 50 minutes, then I let them cool overnight. When I cut them in the morning they were incredibly gooey and almost impossible to eat with your hands. So, I recommend at least an hour of baking. I did try a half recipe in an 8×8 pan and baked them for 45 minutes. They’re cooling right now, but they look much less iffy than the last batch. Enjoy!

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Blackberry Pie Bars
from The Pastry Queen

Crust & Topping
3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chilled unsalted butter

Fruit Filling
4 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup all purpose flour
Pinch of salt
2 (16-ounce) packages frozen blackberries, defrosted and drained

For the crust and topping:
Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process until fully combined. Cut the butter into 1/2-inch cubes. Add the butter to the flour mixture and process until the butter is evenly distributed, but the mixture is still crumbly.

Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the crumb mixture for the topping. Press the remaining crumbs into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake the crust for 12-15 minutes, or until it is golden brown. Cool for at least 10 minutes.

To make the filling:
Whisk the eggs and sugar together in a large bowl, then add the sour cream, flour and salt. Gently fold in the blackberries. Spoon the mixture evenly over the crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs evenly over the top. Bake 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the crust is lightly browned. Cool for at least 1 hour before cutting.

Makes approximately 2 dozen bars.

Take 5 Cookies

I found this recipe on cookiemadness.net and it sounded like a great combination of flavors and textures. Crunchy, creamy, sweet and salty. The cookie is a tribute to the Hershey’s candy bar “Take 5” which is peanut butter, caramel and pretzels covered in milk chocolate…delicious. The original recipe is on the cookiemadness site. This recipe is basically the same with a few changes I made. I was pleased with the way they came out. The caramel was tough. I would probably make my own caramel the next time so that it is easier to drizzle. Simply melting the store bought kind never got smooth enough to make a pretty drizzle, more like clumps which isn’t too pretty.

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Take 5 Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark corn syrup
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 Cups creamy or chunky peanut butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups chocolate chunks (your choice of intensity, just use good chocolate)
1 cup of pretzel sticks lightly crushed (good and salty) plus more for garnish
soft caramels to melt and drizzle

Preheat oven to 325. Line baking sheets with parchment.

Stir together flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.
In medium bowl, cream together butter and sugars until creamy. Add corn syrup and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the peanut butter, beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Stir in the flour mixture. Mix in half of the chocolate and the pretzels.

Drop dough by soup spoon full onto cookie sheets. Add 3 or 4 more chunks of chocolate on top and a few nice size pieces of pretzel so that they will show nicely when baked off.

Bake the cookies for 15 minutes, until they are lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack.

When cool drizzle with caramel.

Yield: approximately 40 cookies

Surprising Stuffed Food!

A few weeks ago I came across a recipe for “Twinkie Tunnel Cake” and was intrigued.  If you have not already figured it out, this is a chocolate bundt cake with…you guessed it…TWINKIES stuffed inside!  I just had to try this thing out.  I did something I never thought I would do, I bought a box of Twinkies.  The cake turned out ok, but not something I would make over and over again.  The idea was fun though and my co-workers got a kick out of it.

Just yesterday I found yet another recipe with something stuffed inside.  What do you get when you combine cupcakes and cookie dough?  Cookie dough stuffed cupcakes!  Again, a recipe that I couldn’t resist trying.  This recipe comes from the Cake Mix Doctor so I felt justified in making it since it wasn’t a waste of a lot of butter, flour, sugar, etc…just a cake mix.   Once they came out of the oven I had to rip one of those puppies open and expose the cookie dough!  There it was.  A little bit of gooey cookie surrounded by moist yellow cake.  Adorable!  I frosted them with chocolate buttercream as recommended and brought them to work today.  Much to my dismay the cookie dough inside some of the cupcakes deflated somehow leaving an empty cave inside the cupcake the walls of which were covered in not so delicious cookie dough goo.  The adorableness of these cupcakes has been lost…but the wonder remains.  Food with food stuffed inside…amazing.

Cupcakes

My principal asked me to make some goodies for a staff meeting we had last week. I was thrilled because I had a cupcake at Buttercup Bake Shop in New York…a peanut butter and jelly cupcake that I really wanted to try to make. That’s right. A yellow cake filled with a little bit of grape jelly and topped with peanut butter cream cheese frosting. I found the recipe here. I figured I needed another cupcake just in case people in China Spring, Texas weren’t quite ready for such a daring cupcake. So I decided on devils food (from a box…don’t tell) with a rich caramel frosting from More from Magnolia Bakery. I highly recommend that you purchase the book, but here is the recipe:

2 cups softened butter, 5 cups sifted powdered sugar, 1 1/2 cups brown sugar, 1/2 cup milk, 2 T dark corn syrup, 2 t vanilla

Cream butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat on low for 2 minutes. Add the milk, corn syrup and vanilla, and beat until creamy and smooth, 3-5 minutes.

Both cupcakes got rave reviews from the teachers and staff. But the chocolate had a slight edge on the PB & J.

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CAUTION: Do not leave the caramel frosting in a car in Texas for more than 20 minutes…your cupcake may suffer the same fate as mine.

When good cupcakes goes bad.

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