Friday, February 25, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes for Valentines Day

I was trying to figure out what to make for Valentine's Day to bring into my office.  I started thinking, chocolate, then red velvet cupcakes in sweet silver liners with bright white frosting and more chocolate.  If you can believe it the original recipe called for twice the amount of red food coloring, but I thought 1 oz of left it them just the right shade of red for Valentine's Day.  These cupcakes turned out moist and fluffy with smooth, whipped cream cheese frosting. 

Red Velvet Cake is something of a mystery and their are several urban legends behind the history of it.  Either way someone has it right.  Enjoy!

*A helpful hint for all those who are busy, as we all are.  If you know in advance that you need to make cupcake say the next day, after an 8-hour work day, go ahead and measure out your dry ingredients (flour, salt, etc in one and sugar in another) the night before and store in airtight containers.

Red food coloring and cocoa powder mixed together.

Butter and sugar.

Red Velvet Cupcakes:

2 1/2 cups cake flour (all-purpose flour will work if it is what you have)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 oz red food coloring
1/2 cup/ 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs (1/2 cup egg substitute) at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line cupcake tin with 18 liners and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

2.  In a small bowl mix together red food coloring and cocoa powder until there are no lumps, it will be on the thicker side.

3.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, salt and baking powder, set aside.

4.  In another large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar using either a whisk or hand mixer.  Next, mix in vanilla, eggs and cocoa mixture until well incorporated, scraping the bowl at least once with a spatula. 

5.  Alternating between the buttermilk and flour mixture, slowly add each to the butter-sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Do not over mix.

6.  In a small bowl mix together vinegar and baking soda.  Add it to the cake batter and mix in.  Using either a tablespoon or a small ice cream scoop, scoop 2 spoon fulls of batter into each cupcake liner until they are each 3/4 full.

7.  Bake for 18-20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.  While baking begin to prepare chocolate.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

8 oz 1/3 fat cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

1.  With a mixer cream, together cream cheese and butter until smooth and well combined.

2.  Mix in vanilla.

3.  On a lower speed, mix in powdered sugar one cup at a time.  If frosting begins to appear dry, taste.  It is okay to not use full amount of powdered sugar.

Semi-sweet - White Chocolate Pieces:

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup white chocolate chips

1.  Set-up two double boilers. (I just use two sauce pans with about one inch of water in the bottom with two metal mixing bowls on top).  Add the semi-sweet chips to one bowl and the white chocolate chips to the other. Slowly melt over medium high heat.

2.  Once melted spread the semi-sweet chocolate on a baking sheet until it is approximately 1mm thick.  Then pour melted white chocolate on top, mix to form design and spread until entire mixture is 1mm thick.

3.  Place in freezer to harden approximately 10 minutes. Remove from freezer and let sit at room temperature for 1 minute.

4.  Using a pizza cutter, cut chocolate into desired shapes and place on cupcakes.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Cinnamon Fever (continued)

These remind me of being a kid.  In seventh grade home ec class one of the few things we made, other than from the bag strawberry muffins (gross), were flaky biscuit cinnamon bites.  These monkey bread "muffins" remind me of those.  They are little bites of cinnamon-maple gooey deliciousness.  If they hadn't been proportioned to me muffins, I probably could have eaten a whole pan full.  Seriously... So I hope you enjoy and maybe these will launch you back to your childhood or put you into a cinnamon induced haze.  If you want to turn these into a dessert, serve warm with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Yum!

I didn't bake my muffins in the liners, but transferred them after baking for serving.

Mini Monkey Bread Muffins: (recipe adapted from
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, chilled
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2/3 cup + 2 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup buttermilk

1. Move oven rack to bottom third of oven.  Preheat to 425 degrees F. Line cupcake pan with with 9 cupcake liners.  Make sure to place a baking sheet one rack below the muffins once placed in oven.  They may ooze over if over-filled.

2. In a microwavable bowl, place 4 tablespoons butter and maple syrup. Set aside. In another small bowl, combine 2/3 cups sugar, 1/3 cup brown sugar and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In a food processor, blend together flour, baking powder, salt and 2 tablespoons sugar. (This can also be done in a bowl and the contents can then be transferred to food processor.) 

4. Once well blended, cut in remaining 8 tablespoons of butter pre-cut into small pieces. Pulse until mixture resembles bread crumbs.  I recommend taking lid off and carefully running hands through to ensure there are no butter pieces larges than a pea size.

5. Place lid back on food processor and slowly pulse in buttermilk until dough comes together.

6. Place dough either back in mixing bowl used to mix dry ingredients or on a floured work surface.  (A bit more buttermilk can be added if dough seems dry.) Form dough into 1" balls and set aside.

7. Microwave butter syrup mixture until butter is completely melted.

8. Dip balls in butter-syrup mixture, then coat with the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Place in cupcake pan, 4-5 balls per liner and press down.  Do not overfill each slot.

9. Tent the muffins with aluminium foil so they do not get burnt or hard on top.  Bake for 15-17 minutes until cooked through and golden brown.  Serve warm and enjoy!  If you have left overs, microwave for approximately 10 seconds and they return to their delicious gooey state.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Cinnamon Fever

Something has come over me and for the past three weekends I have been on a breakfast and cinnamon baking kick.  It all started with Maple Cinnamon Scones that had a delicious flavor, but was missing the scone texture (I definitely over kneaded the dough).  The following weekend I tried my hand at Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins.  I actually was making two batters at once with these; one standard muffin batter all flour and no filler and one gluten-free muffin batter.  It is continuing this weekend with mini monkey bread muffins. 

Maple Cinnamon Scones:

Wet ingredients added to dry ingredients.

Mixture coming together before being kneaded.

Dough formed into scones before baking.

Scones ready and waiting to be eaten.

Maple Cinnamon Scones:
1 2/3 cup all-purpose floor
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
splash of milk

1. Preheat over to 400 degrees F.
2. Combine flour, sugar, cinnamon and baking soda, then add to a food processor.  Using chop, mix in cold butter in small pieces until butter is incorporated and mixture has a sandy texture.
3.  Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl and continue mixing with hands until all butter pieces are smaller than a pea.  Fold in the yogurt, milk and syrup until mixture is mostly combined.
4. Roll mixture out on to a floured cutting board and knead 2 or 3 times until mixture comes together a bit more.  Make sure to not over knead, this will make the scones have more of a bread texture.
5. Pat the dough into a round that is about 1 1/2 inch thick.  Cut into wedges and place on a cookie sheet.  Brush tops of scones lightly with milk and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Maple Frosting:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1.  Mix two ingredients together.  Using a spoon drizzle over slightly warm scones.

Vegan Apple Cinnamon Streusel Muffins:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup vegan butter at room temperature such as earth balance
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pealed apples

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line cupcake pan with liners and spray with cooking spray.  Recipe should make approximately 12 muffins.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together vegan butter and sugars.  Then mix in the egg substitute and vanilla extract.
3. In a separate bowl mix together the two flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon.
4. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, whisking until just combined.  Fold in apples.
5. Divide the batter among the liners.

For Streusel:
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1 table spoon flour
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon cold butter

1. Mix together brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg in a mixing bowl.
2. Using a fork cut the butter into the sugar-flour mixture until it is a sandy consistency. Sprinkle over muffins.
3. Bake Muffins for 16-20 minutes or until tester comes out clean.


Saturday, February 12, 2011

Childhood Dessert Dreams

Today, as my boyfriend would put it, I am in my dream bubble.  I am dreaming of simple chocolate chip cookies, vanilla sheet cake with sickeningly sweet chocolate frosting, or even a simple rice krispie treat (maybe add in some mini m&m's).  What led to this childhood reminiscing you may be asking.  Well, there was another birthday in our office this week (Happy Birthday CK!) and her requested dessert of choice was a simple cookie cake.  Take one jelly roll pan, standard chocolate chip cookie dough, spread it out and bake, then top with vanilla frosting.  Who didn't at some point attend a birthday party where the cake was a GINORMOUS chocolate chip cookie smothered in frosting, slightly gooey in the middle so you thought you were getting away with eating cookie dough. YUM!  This is exactly what I was going for and the office ate it up and enjoyed.  So, today's post is going to be filled with good old stand by recipes and not many pictures.  If you have a favorite childhood dessert please share!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake:

1 cup unsalted butter softened, then slightly melted (this will allow for a gooey-er cookie)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs or 1/2 cup egg substitute
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 12-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
2. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with sugars until creamed and fluffy.  Mix in vanilla and eggs until well combined.
3. In a seperate bowl mix together baking soda, salt and flour.
4. Then add the dry ingredients into the butter-sugar mixture just until combined.  Fold in chocolate chips.
5. Spead cookie dough on to jelly roll pan and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.  (If you do not have a jelly roll pan, a cake pan will work just fine.)

Classic Rice Krispie Treats:  (

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 cups of mini marshmallows
6 cups Rice Krispies cereal

1. Melt butter in a sauce over low heat.  Add in 4 cups marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Pour rice krispies in a large mixing bowl.  Pour butter-marshmallow mixture over rice krispies and stir until well coated.  Fold in 1 cup of marshmallows.
3. Spread the mixutre using a buttered spatual into a 13x9" cake pan or form into balls and push into cupcake pan.