Saturday, August 25, 2012

White Chocolate Ginger Cookies

Maryam really wanted these. I told her these are out of season. Wait til autumn! But no. She bought all the ingredients for them. 

I only used one teaspoon of orange zest and 1/4 cup of the crystallized ginger because those are both very strong ingredients.

The cookies came out soft and chewy. They were wonderfully fragrant. On the way to Mizan's, they filled the car with the spiced aroma of cinnamon and ginger.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Just another recipe I wanted to knock out from my pinterest board. 

The recipe comes from My Baking Addiction and of course her cupcakes look just gorgeous. Thankfully though, the cake came out much better this time than those strawberry cupcakes!

They were light and not too sweet or overly flavorful so I hope they were okay for iftar dessert.   

My sister said they look like soft serve ice cream cones.

See those little black flecks? Vanilla beans are scrumptious and smell so good. The cake has one whole bean and the frosting has one whole bean. I can taste a light vanilla flavor, but I have to say it wasn't extremely flavorful. I think because.... 

 I always use vanilla imitation flavoring with no alcohol. I don't use vanilla extract, which I know tastes better, especially if you are making a vanilla cake. So that is probably why the cake wasn't bursting with flavor. But it was still really good, in fact.... 

This white cake would be a really good wedding cake recipe. It had a good crumb texture but didn't fall apart. It was firm and held its shape well. I was scared but behold, it did not taste like pancakes! It was lightly sweet and would pair really well with fruit puree or filling. Use it with strawberry pie filling and whipped cream and you have the perfect strawberry short cake.  

I got 19 cupcakes out this recipe. The only thing I made changes to was the frosting. I used only 2 sticks butter and 3 cups powdered sugar. It was the first time I used clear imitation vanilla extract (McCormick) to keep the frosting white. I tried the frosting before adding it, and disappointing to say, but the vanilla bean didn't taste like much of anything. Then I added 2 teaspoons of the clear vanilla and it gave it all the flavor. I didn't use any cream or milk. Overall, I liked the frosting, but I should mention it tasted just like birthday cake frosting. Still good, but not the gourmet vanilla bean flavor I was hoping for. I guess it would need an extra vanilla bean for a stronger taste.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Strawberry Cupcakes

Pinterest is my new toy right now. Check email. Check facebook. Check pinterest. I used to just hit the bookmark button through my browser to save a recipe and read through the long list when I wanted to make something new. It's way more fun to look at the pictures now. I have to say, when I see those repins, it makes me want to bake more.

I'm in a cupcake phase right now. I was going to make vanilla bean cupcakes. I went to HEB to get vanilla beans to find out just one bean is $9 bucks and then went across the street to Walmart right after to get 2 for $9. But then I just decided to go with strawberry cupcakes for Naven's parent's iftar.

I was very excited about these because they come from My Baking Addiction, and the recipe looked so good. Well....

I ran into my usual cake problem. Muffins. Why do they always taste like muffins! 

As I was telling my sister how I didn't like how I could taste the oil in these cupcakes (they weren't greasy but I could really taste the vegetable oil) and how I followed the recipe exactly except for mixing the batter for only 30 seconds instead of 2 minutes like the recipe says to do, she said, "Duh, emulsification." And then she explained to me with her fingers interlocking (like I'm a baby who needs a visual), "You know how water and oil don't like to mix?" 

Okay, so I didn't think of that. I guess that explains this then. See all those holes? I don't like that texture. It doesn't make crumbs. So it seems I didn't properly mix my cake. I think it would be worth another try but to substitute the oil for butter and to maybe even add some sour cream. But that doesn't fix the taste...

As for the taste... muffins. Good, but, muffins. Sweet, but... muffins. 

I also used Chobani greek strawberry yogurt. It gave the "cupcakes" a jam flavor. As I said... muffins. 

On to the strawberry buttercream, salvation. My butter was the perfect temperature, softened but not slop. I didn't overmix it so it didn't curdle. The natural pureed strawberries (no jam flavor here) gives it that fresh berry sweetness. Finally, a buttercream with good flavor and texture.

Since I don't recommend the cupcake batter, I will just post the buttercream recipe, which I adapted slightly (added a bit more strawberry puree).

Strawberry Buttercream
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
about 8 medium fresh strawberries, pureed in your blender (you'll need 6-7 tablespoons of puree)

1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes. Don't skimp.

2. Turn the mixture down to low speed and gradually add in the confectioners' sugar until it is completely incorporated. Add in vanilla and 3 tablespoons of the strawberry puree, mix until incorporated. Gradually add in the last 3-4 tablespoons of strawberry puree until you reach the desired level of strawberry flavor. Please note that adding more than the recommended 5 tablespoons could result in a thinner frosting. Turn the mixer back up to medium-high speed and beat the mixture for about 3-4 minutes or until light and fluffy.

3. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes and if desired, garnish with fresh strawberries.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cupcakes

I made these peanut butter chocolate chip cupcakes last month and they were so easy that I made them again to share at my girls iftar last night. I love my friends.

As soon as you smell them in the oven, they are done. Don't over bake so that they stay soft. 

I didn't add any milk to the frosting, because my butter was already very soft. 

I remembered to get the chocolate sprinkles this time! 

The cake tastes like a chocolate chip cookie and even though the frosting has heavy peanut butter, it comes out light and fluffy. I think thanks to my kitchen-aid mixer.

I think a cream cheese peanut butter frosting would be delicious too.

Yield: 22 cupcakes

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup creamy peanut butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup whole milk or heavy cream
2.5 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate sprinkles, optional

For Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in bowl. Beat butter and sugars in mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs and blend until smooth. Slowly mix in peanut butter. Add half the flour mixture and blend slowly. When fully incorporated, add milk and vanilla. Continue to blend slowly. Add remaining flour mixture and mix on low speed just until incorporated. Add chocolate chips and fold in by hand. Scoop into lined baking cups and bake for about 18 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

For Frosting: Combine sugar and salt in a bowl. Beat butter and peanut utter in mixer until smooth and creamy. Slowly add sugar until fully incorporated. Add milk ONLY if needed for a softer consistency. You can also add additional powdered sugar if you need to make your frosting thicker. Frost on top of cooled cupcakes. Top with chocolate sprinkles.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Peanut Butter Pie

I found this pie last Ramadan. It is dreamy.

This is my second time making it. It's too good to eat only once a year but it definitely would be worth the wait! I feel the need to say I brought this to dinner at my brother's last night. My wonderful boss saw my blog and was wondering who eats all of these desserts!

The crust is so good. The oreos are soft and compliments the peanut butter filling perfectly. The melted chocolate becomes hard and adds just a little crunch. The peanuts make it salty sweet. 

The filling is quite sweet though! I bet you could use alittle less sweetened condensed milk and no added sugar.

Creamy Peanut Butter Pie
Serves 10 to 12

1 cup Oreo crumbs (about 15 cookies)
2 tablespoons peanut butter, melted 
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar (same as powdered sugar)
1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Hershey's Symphony Chocolate bar, optional

Add the cookies to the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs.  Combine melted peanut butter and cookie crumbs in a small bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well.  Press mixture into the bottom and 1-inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or in the microwave. Pour over bottom of cookie crust and spread to the edges using an off-set spatula.  Sprinkle chopped peanuts over the melted chocolate. Place pan in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling. 

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl.  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Beat in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream).  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the prepared springform pan.  

To garnish, use a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls. 

Refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving.

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