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Monday, September 8, 2008

Zucchini Cupcakes with Caramel Butter Glaze

Apparently my recipe for Chocolate Zucchini bread that I posted a while back has begun to gain some new popularity lately. Which of course caused me to have some cravings for Zucchini bread. Add that to the fact that I bought four zucchini at the market this weekend and I knew I was going to have to make some bread.

However, I found a recipe for Zucchini cupcakes and thought I would give that a try at the last minute.

I think I may have found a new recipe for plain old Zucchini bread in the process. Let me explain. My grandmother's recipe is for a chocolate bread. These cupcakes have no chocolate whatsoever in them. Which is what I like. While I constantly get compliments on my grandmother's recipe I always find it to be too chocolatey. I plan on trying these cupcakes into a bread but in cupcake form they are delicious. Jam packed full of flavor and extremely moist. They would be wonderful as a muffin too.

Actually, my kids preferred them that way as well. I felt that the Caramel Butter Frosting overpowered the cupcake flavor so next time it's just bread or muffins for this recipe.

But what a way, to start back my cupcake sales!


Zucchini Cupcakes

3 eggs
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 vegetable oil
1/2 orange juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini

Caramel Butter Frosting
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 - 2 cups confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, sugar, oil, orange juice and extract. Combine dry ingredients; add to the egg mixture and mix well. Add zucchini and mix well.

Fill cupcake wrappers two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before frosting.

For frosting, combine brown sugar, butter and milk in saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat; cook for 2 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and add vanilla. Cool to lukewarm.

Graudally beat in confectioner's sugar until frosting is desired consistency. Frost. Yields 2 dozen.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

A bit of Fall? Or Summer?

I have mentioned before what a sucker I am for those grocery store recipe books that line the checkout stands. I did finally break down and buy a subscription to the Pillsbury publication and love when it comes in the mail.

About two weeks ago I received the September issue in the mail entitled "Fall Baking". I had a small dinner party coming up and while flipping through I found a recipe for Berry Peach Cobbler. The thing is that all the fruit and berries it uses are in season at the market in the late summer here so I thought it would be perfect for my dinner party.

Man, was I right!

Simply decadent. It was the hit of the dinner party and I have since made it again (for Labor Day dessert). but instead of the raspberries I substituted strawberries. Again, I don't think you could go wrong substituting any fruit your heart desires in here. Instead of placing this all in one casserole dish to bake I used individual ramekins and baked for 30 minutes. I also served with a small 1 inch scoop of Breyer's Vanilla Lactose Free Ice Cream.

The recipe follows. Try it. Trust me, you'll thank me later!

Berry-Peach Cobbler

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 cup cold butter or margarine, cut into pieces
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon decorator sugar crystals, if desired

Fruit Mixture:
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh raspberries
3 medium peaches peeled, sliced
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 2 -quart glass casserole with butter or cooking spray.

In medium bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and nutmeg. (The flour and sugar that is called for in the biscuit section). Cut in butter, using pastry blender or fork, until mixture looks like coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until combined; set aside.

In 2 1/2 quart saucepan, stir together sugar and flour (from fruit mixture section). Stir in blueberries, raspberries, peaches, lemon peel and lemon juice. Heat to boiling over medium-high heat, stirring constantly. Spoon fruit mixture into baking dish.

Immediately, drop biscuit dough by 8 spoonfuls onto hot mixture. Sprinkle sugar crystals over dough.

Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until biscuits are golden brown. Cool at least 15 minutes before serving.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A Little Change.

So I am a self-proclaimed amazing cook. I am a self-proclaimed great baker. I can cook or bake just about anything. Homemade cakes, cupcakes, pies, name it, I am pretty good at it.

With this comes one exception.
I cannot, repeat, Cannot, bake cookies.

Oh yes, well in theory I can bake cookies. They just never come out right. I don't know what it is. I think I have overbaked just about every cookie I have ever made. My chocolate chip cookies come out too thin, and usually way too crispy. I just suck at cookies!

At any rate, a woman that my husband works with gave me a recipe for my very favorite cookie..."Half Moon Cookies". These cookies have always been my favorite. I love the cake-like cookie. I love the Vanilla & Chocolate frosting. I think these cookies got a little more interesting with that Seinfeld episode where Jerry & Elaine are in the line at the bakery when Jerry quips that the true challenge when eating a Half Moon cookie is consistently getting equal parts vanilla and chocolate frosting in every bite.

So anyway, I have had this recipe for 5 years without trying to make them. That's right, I said 5 years. The recipe calls for 1 cup of spoiled milk. Yes, spoiled. One thing about me...I am obsessed with throwing milk out before the due date. Yes, I know it's still good, but to me it's not. Last week I noticed that the sell by date was two days past (GASP!) and just as I was dumping the milk down the drain my husband reminded me that I have wanted to make those cookies.

So I saved 1 cup and stuck it back in the fridge so it would spoil.

And spoil it did. About 3 days later I was able to smell the nastiest smelling milk ever! It wasn't curdled just had that smell and of course looked like it was separating in the container.

So I finally made the half moons.

Probably the quickest cookie recipe I have followed. But not the best smelling.

Word of advice, if you get a little dough on your hand...DON'T LICK IT!!!

I was tasting sour milk for hours after.

But the result was nice, cake-like cookies. The recipe says it yields 2 dozen. I used a cookie scoop and got about 3 dozen. But all in all, so good. I will definetly let milk spoil in my fridge more often.

Geri Byrd's Half Moon Cookies

1 cup shortening
2 eggs
3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup sour milk
1 tsp. baking powder

Cream sugar and shortening. Add egg and vanilla. Beat well. Add dry ingredients alternately with the sour milk. Drop by tablespoon onto lightly greased cookie sheets. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set in a 350 degree oven. Let cool. Frost with 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 vanilla frosting (your favorite). Yields 2 dozen.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Shortcut Carrot Cake

Of all the desserts out there my favorite by far is Carrot Cake.

I just love it.

From the pecans, to the raisins to the cream cheese frosting nothing brightens my day more than a piece of delicious, moist, flavorful carrot cake.

I love finding that wonderfully tasting piece when I least expect it. There is nothing worse than biting into a piece of dry, flavor-less cake. But when you find a piece of good carrot cake you remember where you were and get go back and get it again.

Since I was a child, this has been my very favorite cake. But until now I have never made it myself. I can't explain why, it's just one of those cakes that I didn't think I could do well and I thought it would take forever.

Boy, was I wrong!

For Easter this past Sunday I made what Kraft Foods calls their "Shortcut Carrot Cake". I was hesitant trying this out but gave it a go anyhow. And boy was I glad I did. This recipe was right up there with my favorite carrot cake slices, the best part of the whole recipe? start with a box of Spice Cake Mix!

Just add in a few ingredients and you have got a delicious carrot cake! The biggest surprise was the cream cheese frosting was so incredibly light and fluffy. Something that you rarely get with any carrot cake.

My only change that I will make is the next time I will add raisins. One thing that the recipe does not.

Next step is making this recipe into cupcakes! I can't wait!

Shortcut Carrot Cake

1 pkg. (2-layer size) spice cake mix
2 cups shredded carrots (about 1/2 lb.)
1 can (8 oz.) crushed pineapple, drained
1 cup PLANTERS Chopped Pecans, divided
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tub (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed

PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Prepare cake mix batter as directed on package, stirring in carrots, pineapple and 3/4 cup of the pecans until well blended. Pour into 2 (9-inch) square baking pans. Bake 25 to 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool.

MEANWHILE, beat cream cheese and sugar with electric mixer or wire whisk until well blended. Stir in whipped topping until well blended.

PLACE 1 cake layer on serving plate. Spread with 1-1/2 cups of the cream cheese mixture. Carefully place second cake layer on top of first cake layer. Frost top and sides of cake with remaining cream cheese mixture. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup pecans. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Nest Cupcakes

So after looking at just how far I had to go back and update this blog I figured instead of starting with the cupcakes that I had made in the fall and the recipes that I would start at the most recent and work backwards.

With that said, I am going to blog every single day until I get caught up!
So if you check back try to hold me to that!

At any rate, let me start off with the Easter Nest Cupcakes.

I found a recipe in an old Pillsbury Recipe booklet (the ones in the checkout line at your neighborhood grocery store).

The recipe was basically starting out with a box of chocolate cake mix and some chocolate frosting. Sprinkling them with chocolate sprinkles (jimmies) to build the nest and placing 3 egg candies for decoration. Viola! You have your Easter Egg Nest Cupcakes.

I had some frozen cupcakes in the freezer that I defrosted (for lack of extra time), and some Vanilla Buttercream that I used instead.

The recipes for those that I used initially were from the "Cupcakes From The Cake Mix Doctor" book.

They were for the White On White Cupcakes which I have since renamed to White Chocolate Cupcakes and the Basic Vanilla Buttercream. Before I begin with the recipes let me give you my observations.

You think White on White Cupcakes should give you a White Cupcake...WRONG! That was what I was expecting until I noticed that you need a whole egg. That immediately turns the batter a light yellow. When they bake they are indeed yellow. Next time, I think I will stick to just the egg whites to get a true white cupcake. The cupcakes themselves were fine, the white chocolate flavor didn't stand out. Which I took to be a good thing and a bad thing. I myself, don't like White Chocolate but I wish the flavor stood out a little more. This will definetly be a recipe I play with when I have some more time.

From personal expierence they freeze very well. The batch I used for the Easter Nests were from an order I put together at the end of February. I think they are actually better and have more of a moistness when frozen and thawed.

As far as making the nests go, I followed the pictures of the Pillsbury nests and didn't like the way they looked. After a little inspection of my pantry I found some coconut which I toasted. After applying the Buttercream and dousing them with a good helping of coconut I placed 3 Cadbury Mini Eggs on top for the egg in the nest look.

Very pleased with the end result!


The recipes are as follows:

White on White Cupcakes:

1 cup White Chocolate Chips
1 Package Plain White Cake Mix
1 Cup Whole Milk
1/3 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 Large Egg
3 Large Egg Whites
1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
Place the white chocolate chips in a medium sized glass mixing bowl in the microwave on high power for 50 seconds to 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a small rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Place the cake mix, milk, oil, eggs, egg whites, vanilla and melted white chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. Spoon or scoop 1/4 cup batter into each lined cupcake cup, filling it two thirds of the way full.

Place them in a preheated 350 degree oven for between 17 to 20 minutes. (They should be golden and spring back lightly when touched).

Vanilla Buttercream

8 Tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 Cups Confectioners' Sugar, sifted
3 to 4 Tablespoons of Milk
1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
Place the butter in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed until fluffly, 30 seconds. Stop and add the confectioners' sugar, 3 tablespoons of the milk and the vanilla. Blend with the mixer on low speed until all ingredients are incorporated, 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy, 1 minute more. Add up to 1 tablespoon of milk extra if the frosting seems stiff.

Where Has The Time Gone?

Wow, my last post was in October?

Holy crap!

I knew I was behind but I didn't think I was THAT far behind.

I don't even know where to start.

And here I thought this was going to be a quick post.

Let me go back and see what I have done.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

How do I love thee Hostess let me count the ways...

My favorite, all-time cupcakes are Hostess.

My very first memory of eating a cupcake is eating a Hostess. I've even been eating them the same way since I was 6 years old (I am now, 31).

First I eat the little white swirl. Then I eat all the chocolate, the I break the cupcake in half and with my tongue scoop out the white cream. Then and only then do I eat the cake.

I even think that the new Hostess 100 calorie cupcake packs are the best thing since sliced bread. However, can't we just add another 25 calories and add the white swirl?

With that said two weeks ago I had to attend a Surprise 50th Birthday celebration for my aunt. I was asked to make cupcakes (of course!). With that said, I wanted to stay in a true 50th birthday fashion and decorate the cupcakes black and white.

On the day I was to make the cupcakes I came across this recipe in the Taste of Home Cupcake & Muffin issue and switched to it!

They were absolutely perfect! And so easy to do!
I know there is a recipe floating around the internet for "Faux-stess" cupcakes and these would be the equivalant. I am now calling them "Faux-stess".

They were a huge hit at the party and have quickly become my number one most requested cupcake now!
What follows is the recipe...ENJOY!

Cream Filled Cupcakes:

1 package Devil's Food Cake Mix
2 teaspoons hot water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 jar Marshmallow Creme
1/2 cup shortening
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ganache Frosting:

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Prepare and back cupcakes according to package directions, using paper-lined muffin cups. Cool for 5 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

For filling, in a small bowl, combine water and salt until salt is dissolved. Cool. In a small mixing bowl, beat the marshmallow creme, shortening, confectioners' sugar and vanilla on high until light and fluffy; add the salt mixture.

Insert a small round pastry tip (#230) into a pastry or plastic bag; fill with cream filling. Insert the tip halfway into the center of each cupcake and fill with a small amount.

In a heavy saucepan, melt the chocolate chips with cream. Cool. Dip cupcake tops into frosting; chill for 20 minutes or until set. Store in the refrigerator.

Yields 2 dozen.

P.S. I used the remaining cream filling to pipe the swirl on the top. I have also used white fondant and put that on the top as well. For example, for the birthday party I had exactly 2 dozen cupcakes and there are exactly 24 letters in the phrase, "Happy 50th Birthday MaryAnn". So I cut small letters out of fondant and used them for the garnish. But by doing the swirl you get the true "faux-stess look!"