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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

valentines day treats

I made red velvet cupcakes to bring to the office on the friday before valentines day. Everyone always raves over Red Velvet cake. I don't get why. It takes about a gallon of red food coloring which promtly gets on everything and they don't really have much flavor. i added chocolate chips to this recipe just to give it some interest. oh, and i forgot the last step involving the vinegar and had to un-scoop the first dozen so i could add the vinegar/baking soda mixture.

Red Velvet Cupcakes
2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 oz. red food coloring (two bottles)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, 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. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake papers.
2. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside.
3. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.
4. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add vinegar mixture to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake cups with cake batter (they should be 2/3 - 3/4 full). You may not fill all the cups, I ended up with 20 cupcakes. Place muffin tins on the middle rack of a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for approximately 20-22 minutes, rotating pans halfway through. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Check early and don’t overbake!

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt
With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using (after frosting softens up, beat with mixer until smooth).
Recipe Notes: If you prefer a sweeter and/or stiffer frosting, more powdered sugar can be added (up to four cups). But remember, the more sugar you add, the less you’ll be able to taste the tangy cream cheese.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

starbucks in an instant?

starbucks has found a way to bring inexpensive instant coffee to their cash strapped customers.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Culinary Confessions

I always eat the first (ugly) pancake while standing at the stove making the rest of the batch.

I rarely sift my dry ingredients.

I scoop my flour directly out of the bag even though I know I'm supposed to spoon it into the measuring cup.

My refrigerator door is overflowing with jars of jams, and condiments.

I go through about a dozen eggs per week.

I rarely chop onions. I usually buy them already chopped.

I still have an unopened bottle of Limoncello that I bought in Naples in 2005.

I love Greek yogurt but only the kind that comes with honey.

I HATE any type of fruit in my yogurt but I will eat plain or vanilla yogurt and dip my fruit in it.

I like my steak rare, rare, rare. But also love the crunchy ends of the prime rib roast.

I don’t get the big deal over red velvet cake.

I will sometimes eat capers right out of the jar.

Sometimes I will eat a bite of the raw hamburger before I brown it.

I drink close to a gallon of water a day.

I don't eat meat on the bone.

I don’t always wash my berries before eating them, unless I’m serving them to someone else.

I want the wait-person to clear my dishes as soon as I push them aside and almost always pre-bus the table because I can’t stand having the food in front of me when I am done eating.

I almost never get the number of cookies out of a batch of dough that the recipe says it makes.

I use the phrase “I can make that” at least once a day in reference to something edible seen on television, a magazine, a menu, or a store.

And then I usually do make it.

I love mayonnaise. Especially with, on, and in eggs.

The thought of eating Cadbury crème eggs makes me gag.

I hate licorice.

Prosecco makes me dizzy-happy.

I only like duck in pate form.

I love to offer people my home baked treats and then tell them that they were made with splenda.

I go to the grocery store every couple days.

I prefer grocery shopping to all other kinds of shopping, and when I’m sad or feeling a bit down, I find walking into a grocery store is the quickest way to make myself feel better.

I love veal, pork without guilt.

I love butter. And salt. And garlic.

I do like canned frosting.

Anytime I eat out I can’t help but think about how I’d recreate the recipe at home, certain that my version would be better.

I think that pine nuts, when eaten on their own, have a flavor very similar to smoky bacon or prosciutto.

I crave a bologna sandwich every now and then.

I peak in the oven several times while baking. It’s yet to cause a disaster.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies

This recipe calls for Cashews but I didn't have any around so I left them out.

This batch turned out a little more crispy than I would like so I think next time I will cut down on the baking time. That being said, they are DELICIOUS!

Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies
Adapted from David Lebovitz’s cookbook
The Great Book of Chocolate


1/2 pound unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup cashews, toasted and chopped
3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Instructions: Makes About 24 Cookies
Preheat oven to 325° F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper or oil them lightly with vegetable oil.

In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, and espresso powder. Mix well, stopping once to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix into the creamed butter mixture, scraping again. Stir in the cashews and chocolate chips.

Scoop the cookie dough into large (1/4 cup) balls, arranging them at least 2 inches apart, 8 on each baking sheet. Bake until the cookies are just flat, 20 to 25 minutes, turning and rotating the baking sheets as necessary for even baking. Let cool about 10 minutes before transferring from the baking sheet to the cooling rack. Once cool, store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.