Archive for Dessert

I think I need a moment

(Title is Actual Quote from today.)

Imagine a food. This is a food that you may enjoy various concoctions and flavors. You might even be a bit experimental.

Then, someone places something in your hand. It looks like this food. It even has the ingredients and components of this food. Yet, when you take a bite, your brain goes:


Your brain knows the components. They even sound good, if slightly on the experimental cutting edge of food.

Celery Root Carrot Cake. Okay, celery root isn’t all that traditional, but carrot cake is pretty good.

Blue Cheese Buttercream. Well, okay, kinda weird, but you had that pear olive oil cake with blue cheese buttercream that was pretty good, so you go for it.

Fried Chicken. Okay, unorthodox, but chicken and waffles is a southern delicacy, and you have even had the chicken ‘n waffle cupcake and it was good.

Citrus Buffalo Sauce. Which they should bottle and sell it was so good. Tangy and spice and I dont even like buffalo sauce.

Put it together? You have a cupcake that defies words, that is the bastard love child of an evil scientist and a high couture pastry chef.*

I give you, the Hot Josh.

“Celery root & carrot cake with Point Reyes blue cheese buttercream and citrus tinged Buffalo chicken.”

You take a bite. Your brain processes the cake. Not to sweet, very moist, very good. You bite into the chicken. Spicy, tangy, good. Yet, somehow, your brain refuses to process the combination of all of the components.

Seriously. My brain rejected this experience.


I can remember the taste of the buffalo chicken. And I kinda remember the cake. But even though I took several bites of everything together, I have no memory of that flavor.

They blew my brain. How many of you can say that a cupcake (or any food) did the same for you?

Read their post about the Hot Josh at

*Actually, it is a husband and wife team, and both parties embody both examples. :)

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Mexican Chocolate Cupcake with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Frosting

Woohoo for Air conditioned kitchen! Boo for still melting my frosting!

I am kitten sitting for some friends of mine, and while I am here, I am taking full advantage of their air conditioned kitchen to play with baked goods. I also did not bring butter or milk over with me the first day, so I needed a vegan cupcake.

I found this Mexican Chocolate Cake recipe listed a few places online. I liked the fact that it didnt use any milk substitutes, and that it had balsamic vinegar for acidity (rather than white vinegar, which is also not in this kitchen.) “Mexican Chocolate” is typically spiked with cinnamon for a slightly spicy kick, and these cupcakes also have cayenne pepper. They do have a spicy after kick.

I wanted to try this Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream, because I think it may go well with my dulce de leche cupcakes. The frosting was great, except I think I overbeat it, and/or the kitchen was too warm, so the butter started to melt.

This is different than the buttercream curdling. Most meringue based frostings (as well as my Cooked Flour Frosting) go through a stage where they look curdled. This is normal, and the answer is to keep beating it. However, when it starts to look like tiny fat globules and shiny liquid, something happened and you need to start over. (Or, ya know, eat it, because it is butter and sugar and therefore tasty, just not smooth and not pretty.)

Spicy Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes
(Recipe from
Makes 12 servings

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup cold water
1/4 cup canola oil*
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

This is a one bowl cake. Put everything in a bowl, and mix it up. Do not overbeat, but stir until just smooth. You can leave out the cayenne pepper, or substitute chili powder for less heat. (Edit 7/25/2010: Since this is an egg and dairy free cake, you actually can agitate the flour a bit, because it is the gluten that holds the cupcake together. Making this a second time, i put in 1 tsp of Cayenne pepper, and I think the chili powder provides a slightly better taste. I also upped the Cinnamon to 3 tsp., as I think the cinnamon came out more pronounced. The downside was that many thought the chocolate flavor wasn’t there.)

*(Note: Serious Eats has made this cake without the canola oil, so it may be optional. I would think that the cake would be drier, and I tend to like moist cupcakes.)

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 15 minutes. You can also make one 8 or 9 inch layer, and cook for approximately 30 minutes. A toothpick will come out clean when finished.

Top with Brown Sugar Swiss Meringue Buttercream.

A few notes on the swiss buttercream: when the eggs are at proper temperature, you can feel the mixture and it will no longer feel gritty. Make sure that everything is clean, otherwise the initial meringue will not fluff up. When adding the butter, “curdling” or it looking lumpy is fine, just keep beating. “Melting” is not okay. Make sure your kitchen is cooler than 75 degrees or so , otherwise the butter may melt. If you are really worried, watch this video on 123 Swiss Buttercream.

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Red Velvet Pumpkin Cupcakes

Rather, red velvet cake mix made with pumpkin. I took half a cake mix, 7.5 oz of pumpkin (half of the can), one egg, and a little bit of oil. (I did not measure it.)

It came out cakey, like an actual cupcake. The first pumpkin muffin attempt was just a spice cake mix and canned pumpkin. That was good, and had a distinct pumpkin taste, which was good. The texture was more of a muffin. So, I wanted to try out adding typical “cake ingredients” to see if they would come out. And they did!

Tomorrow, I will attempt (again) my grandmothers cooked flour frosting. Look for that later!

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Banana Cupcakes with (Attempted) Strawberry Frosting

I had a few older bananas, and faced with the choice of banana bread or banana cupcakes, I chose the cupcakes. I used Banana Chiffon Cake recipe. Chiffon cakes are made with oil, with most of the leavening coming from egg whites.

My egg whites did not whip up. I probably did not check the pan or the whisk to make sure that they were absolutely residue free, so I will have to do that next time.

The cupcakes browned rather quickly, but they rose with a nice dome top. The bananas did something funky, as the inside seems to have tiny dark spots, almost like threads. I assume they came from the bananas.

The frosting? Well, strawberry frosting still eludes me. I learned that my frosting does need some fat in it. I started with cream cheese, strawberry puree, and strawberry jam. I mixed in 1.5 lbs of sugar, and it was still quite runny. I mixed in some shortening, and it firmed up. Will mix in shortening at the beginning next time.

I played with the frosting. I am deciding what type of decorations look and taste best on cupcakes. These were made with just a disposable piping bag with a large part of the tip cut off. Pretty! Will have pictures once I figure out a photo editing program :)

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Orange Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Orange Marmalade Frosting


I wanted to make a cupcake with a taste combination that is not normally seen. I think the taste combination was great! I think the cupcake was a bit dense, so I will play with it a bit. I topped these with candied orange peel, but those came out slightly crispy.

Orange Chocolate Cupcakes
Adapted from Hershey’s Chocolate Cake Recipe.

2 1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 cup flour
1 cup Cocoa (I used a mixture of Valhalla and Hershey’s)
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup milk. (Next time, I may swap some out for orange juice, for more of an orange juice flavor)
3/4 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla extract (I am never buying McCormick extract again. Go for the good stuff.)
2 tsp Pure Orange Extract
1 cup boiling water
2 tbsp orange juice (I put this in the boiling water, because my orange juice was in ice form.)

Whisk dry ingredients in mixing bowl. Add everything else, except the boiling water, into the bowl. Mix for two minutes. Add boiling water, and mix until combined.

This made 18 regular size cupcakes, 24 mini cupcakes, and a 6 inch cake. Cook until done. (I am horrible, and did not time any of it, but I watched it until it was done.)

Chocolate Orange Marmalade Frosting.
Adapted from The Cupcake Project

1 cup butter, at room temperature.
6 oz Orange Marmalade (I weighed this, or I think it is about 2/3 cup).
3 cups of powdered sugar. (I think I used more than this, but I wanted a stiffer frosting.)
2 tbsp Orange Juice (or use 1/4th cup for thinner icing for frosting a cake).
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 oz melted unsweetened chocolate. (I used Nestle’s pre-melted packets.)

Beat butter until creamy, then beat in the orange marmalade. Add in half the powdered sugar and mix. Scrape down bowl. Add the orange juice, extracts, and chocolate. Beat until smooth. Add the rest of the powdered sugar, scraping down the bowl once.

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Attempted Red Velvet Cake

One of the great mysteries of baking is the time that it takes. Cooking, I can taste as I go along, but with baking, there is a special magic that happens from the time that everything is mixed, to the time that it is baked.

I attempted to make red velvet cake. The batter tasted good. I used this recipe from Pinch My Salt (but it was very similar to most other recipes that I read.)

The cakes came out an interesting mottled color:

6 inch Red Velvet Cake

6 inch Red Velvet Cake

But, I figured it would taste fine. (The cake pictured was baked in a 6×3 Cake Pan. A few sites suggested cooking cakes in a 3 inch pan, as to not have to make two layers. This is important when my oven will not hold two 8 or 9 inch cake pans.)

I frosted the cake with cream cheese frosting. The frosting climbed my beaters, which was weird and I am not sure why or how that happened. It also seemed that the frosting could have used more powdered sugar to make a thicker consistency, but I ran out of sugar (and forgot about the box in the pantry.) I should have done a crumb coat, but I was impatient to actually try the cake. So, not the best icing job in the world :)

Frosted Red Velvet Cake

And, I didnt like it. The cake was not as rich or moist as I would have liked. It also did not have a deep enough chocolate flavor. Sad. I think when I go back home for winter break I will steal my grandmothers recipe and try it again.

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Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yum. Tasty Kitchen is a new site from The Pioneer Woman. It is full of yummy recipes. But, the best thing is that the number of servings is adjustable, so you can change it to suit how much you are making! You can also switch between US and Metric measurements.

I tried Chocolate Chip Muffins. There is something about an entire stick of butter makes me wary (even if it is only 1/2 a cup). But, half a stick isnt quite as bad, so I made 6 muffins. I also took the suggestion and used 1/3rd whole wheat flour. I think I want to get white whole wheat flour to use, as the Whole Foods 365 brand of whole wheat is both extra wheaty tasting, and ultra high protein (which I think is also why my whole wheat bread experiments failed).

I think I need an oven thermometer. My oven takes a lot longer to cook things than the recipes say. Perhaps I am not preheating it long enough, or it does run cold. It is a smaller oven than I am used to, so that may be it as well. (I have half sheet pans, and I use them in place of the grates, as they fit into the side of the oven.) I had to cook the muffins for about 25 minutes.

I use Silicone Baking Cups. I would like to get a real metal muffin tin eventually, but for small kitchens, this is actually really nice to have. I can store my muffin tins in a 2 inch by 2 inch square in the pantry. :)

Very nice!

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Monkey Bread

I am fascinated by the idea of Monkey Bread. In case you dont know, this is bread made of smaller chunks, so that you can pull the bread apart to eat it.

I am also fascinated by the concept of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

Zoe put the recipe for Brioche dough on her website. Now, I had never heard of brioche before, so I had no concept of how hard it was. I am thankful that there is an easy way to do it!

I wondered how the dough would work for monkey bread. So this is my attempt.

I made the dough, but halved the recipe. I dont think I melted the butter all the way, as there were some small solid chunks when I mixed everything else. I did let the butter cool quite a bit, so it would not kill the yeast. Mixed everything together, and it looked good, if a little dry. I let it rise on the counter for two hours, then put it in the fridge.

The next day, it did not look like it had risen very much. After my first attempt at the whole wheat bread from the book, I was worried that it would not turn out. But, I figured that the dough was rich enough, that even if it did not rise, it would work fine.

I melted four tablespoons of butter in a small sauce pan. I mixed four tablespoons of brown sugar into it, and let it cook for just a few minutes. I put this in the bottom of my new Bundt Pan. I took the cold dough, rolled it into small balls (about golf ball size), rolled those in a cinnamon sugar mixture, then put them into the pan. All of the dough fit into about half of the bundt pan. I then put the pan back into the fridge, covered with foil.

The next morning, it had risen, and now filled the pan. Yay for yeast! I let it sit on the counter for about 40 minutes, then put it in a 400 degree oven. (Which was too high, the top was starting to burn when the middle wasnt done.)

I took it out of the oven, let it sit for a few minutes, then turned it out onto a sheet pan.

And it was burnt. See what I get for not following the instructions? However, the insides, without the burnt parts, tasted pretty yummy. I will definitely make the brioche dough again, but I will try other things with it. Maybe monkey bread without the topping syrup? Or a lower temperature? Or donut holes! :)

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