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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Homemade Pudding Pops

Well it's that time of year. The time of year I feel nostalgic for frozen treats from back when I was a kid, and the time of year that I dread to turn on my oven. So here is a super easy fun treat that satisfied both my need to share a delicious memory with my children, and their need for something chocolaty made by mom.

Chocolate Pudding Pops
*makes 4 large sized pops*

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tablespoons corn starch
2 cups milk

In a microwavable bowl whisk together all dry ingredients, try to get all the lumps out. Add milk slowly while whisking to minimize clumping. Microwave for 3 minutes and stir. Now microwave for 3 minutes more, whisking between each minute. Pour in to popsicle molds and freeze thoroughly.

Here are some ideas for variations. Skip the chocolate and add 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract once the pudding is out of the microwave for vanilla pudding. You can also add chopped fruit in to your molds. Like vanilla pudding with strawberry chunks, or banana in the chocolate. If you have 8 molds try making both vanilla and chocolate and pouring them in on top of one another with some chopped fruit. 
Enjoy, I know my kids did and are already asking if I can make more for tomorrow.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Earl Grey Cupcakes With Lavender Marscarpone Frosting

I've wanted to make an Earl Grey cupcake for a few years now, I just hadn't gotten around to it until now. You will need a few specialty ingredients for this one. First is loose leaf Earl Grey tea. You can get it from your local tea shop, a more commercial shop is Teavana. They are popping up in malls everywhere and also available online. That's where I got mine. The next thing you need is culinary lavender. I was lucky enough to have my sister bring me some from Hawaii. There are plenty of places online to get it, but it may be harder to come by locally.

Before you get started, there is some prep you should do.
Steep 1 tablespoon of earl grey in one cup of milk. Do not heat the milk. It will still steep, it will just take longer. The reason I'm not telling you to heat the milk is because if you are not used to using loose leaf tea it's very easy to over brew it, and make it bitter. What I did was started steeping the tea in the milk first, and left it while I got everything else together. If you want you can even leave it in the fridge over night.  

The next thing is to prepare the lavender syrup for your frosting. In a saucepan dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar in 1/2 cup of water. Once dissolved on medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons of lavender and leave it simmer for 3 minutes. Then pour over a strainer and leave liquid to cool.

makes 2 dozen cupcakes 350 oven
1 cup earl grey milk (see above)
4 tablespoons of ground Earl Grey loose leaf tea (I used a coffee grinder)
1/2 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
4 cups self rising flour
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cream butter and sugar together for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time mixing between each. In a separate bowl whisk flour and tea together. Add vanilla to your tea/milk. When the batter is nice and fluffy add 1/3 of the flour and tea mixture, then 1/3 of the milk. Continue to alternate, mixing between each. Fill cupcake liners and bake for 20 minutes.

1/2 cup lavender syrup (see above)
1 cup room temperature marscarpone cheese
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whip whipping cream on medium speed in your mixer while adding sugar. Once sugar is added, turn mixer on high until soft peaks form. Add cheese and continue to mix, scraping bowl at least once. Slowly add syrup while mixing until thick.

I used ground lavender with a little powdered sugar for a garnish. (powdered sugar and lavender in a coffee grinder)

This is one of my new favorite cupcakes and I think it's the best frosting I've ever made. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Egg Free, Nut Free, Chocolate Cupcakes

Well here we are. I have made the cupcake I always said I would never make. The soy cupcake. I'm not really a fan of soy and I try to avoid it whenever possible, but when kids have severe allergies you sometimes have to turn to soy for a birthday party or two. I have a friend who's son has what seems like countless allergies. After a recent allergy scare in my own house, I realized how frustrating it can be to have your whole world turned upside down, because your child tests positive for a food allergy like eggs, or corn, or wheat. I'm already a label reader, but those are not things I tend to avoid aside from corn. It's one thing to have an allergy to something that isn't really good for you anyway, but what happens when you are allergic to a staple food? So for all the frustrated moms out there, I hope this helps. It's a chocolate cupcake and it's gluten free, egg free, nut free, dairy free, and corn free.

1 1/4 cup Gluten Free Pantry All Purpose Flour (the brand matters)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon potato flour
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa powder

Combine flours, xanthan gum, cocoa, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and whisk by hand until well mixed.
Heat water in a sauce pan on medium heat. Add sugar and stir until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and pour in to your mixer. Add dry mix and continue to mix, scraping the bowl a few times. Add oil, vanilla, and vinegar mixing well. (be careful not to over mix, the more you mix xanthan gum, the gummier it becomes)
 Portion in to cupcake forms and smooth out tops. What ever shape they land in the cupcake forms is the shape they will bake in unless you do this.
Bake for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.

1 cup shortening
2/3 cup soy milk
5-8 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whip shortening on high speed add vanilla and two cups of the sugar. Add soy milk a little at a time, mixture will look like cottage cheese. Continue to add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time until desired flavor and consistency.

Top cupcakes with grated dark chocolate. :)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Old Fashioned Butter Cream

Butter Cream has changed quite a bit over the years. Traditionally it was an egg syrup and butter mixture, which we will talk about another time. This is a simple, classic, not too sweet, butter cream. Don't get out the powdered sugar and butter though, oh no we are going to do this right, and from scratch! I promise it will be amazing and there are a few things you can do the day before you need it.

The first thing you need is butter. When making a butter cream, I prefer to make it fresh.
1 pint heavy whipping cream
electric mixer
bowl of cold water
mason jar

Pour the whipping cream in to your mixer. Using the whisk attachment beat on high for a few minutes, until you have a thick whipped cream.
Next put the splash guard on your mixer and change to the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer back on high until butter milk starts to splash out the sides, then turn the speed down and continue to mix.
Place the strainer over your mason jar (or any air tight container)
Once you get a sloppy mess going, strain the butter milk out of the bowl. Return bowl to mixer and continue to beat until you get one lump of butter. It should be about 2 cups.
Rinse and squeeze butter in cold water until water runs clear. Wrap butter in wax paper if you are not using it promptly and leave it out until you are ready to use it for your frosting. (butter doesn't need to be refrigerated, but if you do, let it return to room temperature before using it for frosting.)

Simple Syrup
2 1/2 cups of sugar
3/4 cup white corn syrup
1 1/4 cups water

Place all ingredients in a large sauce pan. On low heat, stir until the sugar is combined. Once the syrup is clear, place lid on the pan for 5 minutes. The steam will dissolve the sugar on the sides. Remove lid, raise heat and boil without stirring for 5 minutes. Let cool completely and pour in to jars to store. This can be stored for quite some time. If crystals appear on the bottom of the jar (rock candy) it simply means the sugar was not fully dissolved. If this happens, enjoy your rock candy and pretend you meant to do it.

Now comes the easy part. Simply beat your butter in your mixer with the whisk attachment until soft and fluffy. Gradually add in 2/3 cups of your syrup and continue to beat until it's cohesive and creamy.
This should yield about 2 cups of very light, not too sweet butter cream.

If you really want to skip a step you can use 2 cups of already made, store bought butter. This is now my go to butter cream and I plan to always have a jar of simple syrup on hand.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Heart Shaped Home Made Oreos

I do have a Valentine's Day cupcake coming, I swear. First things first, I offered to supply the treat for my daughter's preschool Valentine's Day party. In my opinion, since they will each be going home with a bag of candy, a cupcake seems like just too much for a four year old. I was trying to think of something sweet, that everyone would love. Oreos! I mean what four year old doesn't love oreos? What I love is an oreo type cookie with no preservatives and I can control the amount of frosting in the center, perfect.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gluten Free Salted Caramel Mocha Cake Truffles

Cake truffles? Did you make that up?
Why yes, yes I did. Really when it comes down to it, I'm far too lazy to learn to make cake pops so this is essentially a cake pop without a stick, and what is a cake pop without a stick? Let's just say it's a cake truffle.
The reason I wanted to give these a try instead of the usual cupcake is because in my family Christmas time is all about cookies and cookie exchanges. While I'm sure no one minds swapping a cupcake for a cookie in my family, a cupcake is a bit much and doesn't really go with the grazing theme that we have with desserts. I plan to make these again for Christmas next week, but I wanted to give them a trial run. I will say that next time I will add a touch of coffee to the frosting, because I want a stronger coffee flavor in the center, and more caramel on top. Seriously, I don't think you can put too much caramel on these things.

The basic steps for this will be.

  1. bake the cake
  2. let it cool and crumble the cake
  3. make frosting
  4. add frosting to cake crumble and form in to balls
  5. freeze for 1 hour
  6. make ganache 
  7. dip cake balls and chill
  8. make caramel
  9. spoon caramel on to cake balls
I wanted to lay the steps our first, because it is a bit involved and with everything there is to do, you may want to separate the steps in to two separate days of work.

1 1/2 sticks off  room temp butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs room temp
2 cups gluten free flour
1 teaspoon xantham gum'
1 teaspoon potato flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons instant coffee
1/4 cup high quality unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup milk
1/2 cup of strongly brewed coffee.

(if you have no need to make these gluten free, simply sub the ingredients in bold type for 2 cups of all purpose flour.)

Preheat oven to 350 and grease you pan for your cake. It really doesn't matter what you use to bake the cake in because you are going to crumble it, it does change the bake time though. I used a 9x14 glass pan.
Cream butter and sugar together for 3 minutes. Measure out flours, xantham gum, salt, baking soda, chocolate, and instant coffee in to a bowl and whisk together.
Measure out milk, coffee and vanilla and set aside.
Add eggs to your butter and sugar one at a time mixing between each. Add dry and wet ingredients and mix until combined.
Pour in to you cake pan and bake for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean when poked in to the center.

Center Frosting
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4oz mascarpone cheese (in the future I may choose the coffee flavored, but I'm not sure if that is gluten free)

Place whipped cream in the bowl and chill for a few minutes. Turn your mixer on medium until bubbles start to form, add sugar and turn your mixer on high. Mix until you have whipped cream, add mascarpone and mix on high for a few seconds until thick and creamy texture is achieved.

Add frosting to crumbled cake

 mix with a spatula until combined. Roll out balls (think doughnut hole size) and place them on parchment paper lined cookie sheets
You will get about 50

Chill for about an hour.

Butter Ganache
2 4oz Ghiradelli 60% baking bar
1 4oz Ghiradelli 70% baking bar
7 tablespoons softened butter

Place a metal bowl on top of a pot of boiling water. Break up chocolate and stir until melted. Add half the butter and continue to stir until melted. Remove from heat and add remaining butter. Using a spoon about the same size as your cake balls (if possible) roll the balls in chocolate and place them back on the paper.

The ganache will start to harden and get shinny in just a minute. If you ganache starts to harden in the pot, warm it back up on the stove.

4 tablespoons water
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
4 tablespoons butter (softened)
1 teaspoon sea salt (and extra for sprinkling)

In a sauce pan on medium heat stir and combine water, corn syrup, and sugar. As soon as it's combined, cover the pan for 2 minutes.
Uncover and let boil, do not stir from here on out. Shake the pan occasionally to keep the sides from burning.
Let boil until the mixture starts to turn  amber in color
If you start to smell sugar burning, even faintly, remove from's done.
Remove from heat and stir in butter and salt until combined and smooth.

Now if you have made caramel in my recipes before you will notice there is no cream in this one. It will not stay gooey  it will get very hard and candy like. It is extremely hot, Please be careful not to touch it until you know it is completely cooled.

Pull your cake balls out of the fridge and spoon the caramel over the tops of each with one hand, and add a pinch of salt to each with the other hand. If you put all the caramel on first, it will get hard and the salt won't stick. If you put the caramel down between each truffle you will have to reheat it constantly. That being said if the caramel starts to get stiff, put it back on the stove and reheat it until it's easy to work with again.

Place back in the fridge, you're done!

Set them up on a plate and enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012