All posts by Cocofancy

Butterbeer Cupcakes

This is the problem with staring at Pinterest: you find that people start planning for the holidays and such early. For someone like me, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing: it’s the beginning of September and I’m starting to formulate what I want to do for Halloween, as well as the treats I can bring into work around that time. Unfortunately, I kept seeing fall things: pumpkin items, fall decor, pumpkin carving ideas, etc. As you have seen, this has gotten me into the mood for fall WAY TOO EARLY. I love the sun; I need more sun. I don’t need it to be fall yet.

That being said, fall and the holidays always make me think watching of certain things: Mikal and I always watch Love Actually at least a couple of times around Christmas, and somehow, Harry Potter belongs to Fall. Not quite sure how that has gotten ingrained in my brain, but it has. So yesterday I had a craving for a Harry Potter marathon. Well, technically I don’t generally watch the first or second movies – the acting is just not quite there and it’s more painful to watch than anything.

To my most unpleasant surprise, Netflix does not have ANY Harry Potter. What’s up with that?! Seriously Netflix, get your shit together. It’s bad enough you don’t have the Iron Man movies – at least get yourself some Harry Potter. Seriously. At least you have Grey’s Anatomy.

But this obviously wouldn’t do! NO HARRY POTTER! So while Mikal and I tried to log into our video games to no avail because everything was being horrendously stupid, I stared at Pinterest. I stared and stared and found the following recipe. It’s pretty awesome. Needs some work on the buttercream – this recipe makes the kind of frosting you find on cupcakes in the store, which I’m not terribly fond of. I’ll find one of the other buttercream recipes I have used previously and do another post to update this, because other than that this recipe is pretty awesome. Of course, not having had butterbeer at all, I’m not sure how accurate the taste is, but it tastes pretty awesome.

Butterbeer Cupcakes

from AmyBites

Cupcakes

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter flavoring
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup cream soda

Filling

11 oz. butterscotch chips
1 cup heavy cream

Frosting

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup butterscotch filling
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter flavoring
1/8 tsp salt
1 16-oz. package powdered sugar (or whatever amount to achieve consistency you desire)

Cupcakes
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line cupcake pan with paper liners or just grease the pan. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and butter flavoring.

Note: I did not have butter flavoring on-hand, and the cupcakes have turned out decently ok. I have never used butter flavoring before because I have had no use for it, but I believe I may invest in some just for this recipe, because it might kick it up that little bit to make it amazing. 

Alternate adding your buttermilk, cream soda, and dry ingredients in batches until all are well-incorporated. Fill each cupcake liner 3/4 full, then bake for 15-17 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and cake springs back to the touch. Cool completely on wire racks.

Filling
In a double boiler, combine butterscotch chips and heavy cream and stir until completely combined and smooth. (For me this took longer than expected – much longer than chocolate chips do. But once they actually start melting, they stick together, so be sure to stir often and keep over heat until fully melted – there were tiny un-melted pieces left over at the bottom of the bowl when I poured the mixture into the squeeezy bottle.) Fill a squeeze bottle with the filling and insert into the center of each cupcake, squeezing until the filling begins to overflow. (Another note: I had already gone out to buy eggs and cream soda for this trip, and completely forgot to get heavy cream, so I ended up using half & half. This actually made an interesting thing happen: the filling soaks into the cupcake breading, better distributing the flavor. I don’t know if this happens when it’s made with heavy cream – considering the author called the filling “ganache” I believe it’s supposed to be thicker, but I’m not sure.) 

Frosting
Cream butter in a large bowl until fluffy. Add ganache, vanilla, butter flavoring and salt and mix until well-combined. Beat in powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until reaching the desired consistency – you want it to keep its shape rather than melting. Frost cupcakes and drizzle with butterscotch filling.

butterbeer cupcakes

Chai-Spiced Sugar Cookies


Fall seems to be coming early this year. At least, that’s what my brain is telling me. Even the weather is telling me this, if you go by what is outside my window right now: an even grey of cloud-cover. Kinda feels like I’m back in Washington, even if it will likely only last the morning. Otherwise the weather has been fully super-summer with the heat and sun and stuff.

Every time I have looked at Pinterest lately, more and more fall items have been appearing. I do love fall – it’s generally been that time of year that I start baking my brains out, preparing for a Halloween party, and getting into the anticipation of the holiday season. I love the scents and colors of fall – warm oranges, reds, rich browns, the occasional green accent. I like the crispness of the air in the evenings, that chill that comes in on the wind. Summer is pretty wonderful and all, but I think I still prefer fall.

At any rate, Mikal and I were discussing the more standard fare for the items I am bringing to the office – essentially coming up with about half a dozen items I regularly bring in and keep it stocked with – when I thought about the pumpkin coffee cake I made last year. So amazingly good. My next thought was “MAKE ALL THE PUMPKINS!” I hope we get enough pumpkins from the CSA to keep me stocked for what I need, but it probably won’t. I’ll be keeping my eye out for sugar pies at the store, and will likely be attempting to vary the recipe by substituting applesauce and such.

In other news, apparently I have never made sugar cookies. I don’t terribly like them, so I guess it makes sense to some extent, but you’d think I would have made at least one batch by now. Nope! I came to this realization when I had no idea what the cookies were supposed to look like “done.” I set the timer to the appropriate time to take them out, and when it went off I checked, as all ovens are a little different. They looked too moist. Also rather fluffier than the pictures from the source. And too wet. I left them in for another minute, watching them. They didn’t look any different, so I took them out, let them sit on the cookie sheet a bit. They eventually deflated and looked more normal, so I ate one. It did seem a tad under-done, but it was still rather warm. I took bites of the cookie over the course of 3-4 minutes, and noticed that it developed the proper consistency the longer it cooled. Whew.

They do taste and smell amazing. It’s a bit like a more spicy snickerdoodle. I think I can still only do a couple before I have to quit, though.

Chai-Spiced Sugar Cookies

from My Baking Addiction

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cups white sugar
2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp finely ground black pepper
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone liner and set aside.

In an appropriately-sized bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

In a medium bowl (or the bowl of a mixer) combine sugar, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice and black pepper. Remove 1/4 cup of the sugar-spice mixture and set aside for rolling the cookies.

In that same bowl, beat the butter and sugar-spice mixture until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla extract, and combine until fully incorporated. Slowly blend in dry ingredients until just combined.

Using a small scoop, roll dough into balls and then into the reserved sugar-spice mixture. Place dough balls on prepared baking sheet roughly 1 1/2″ apart.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand on baking sheet for 3 minutes before moving them to cool on a wire rack.

Chai-Spiced Sugar Cookies

 

Pluot-Jalapeño Jelly

I had an interesting weekend of the following:

bakeallthethings

Well, really, that was Monday. Sunday was jamming day because we had some pluots that needed to be consumed and more jalapeños than you could shake a stick at. Well, you could shake a stick at them, though it’d do you no good…and we still have about as many because we got more from the CSA this week.

I’m going to focus on the jelly and the blueberry jam as Mikal was trying to refer a friend here to get some pointers on making grape jelly, but there was nothing to refer her to. So here goes this.

The following recipe was heavily adapted from a much more involved recipe – it covers two days and requires way more kitchen gadgets than I have – but has rendered a pretty awesome jelly. I have recently invested in some enameled cast-iron cookware (the Food Network line from Kohl’s is a decent price and seems to be working out well), and I have to say it has made it much easier for me to do this type of thing – the whole even-heat-distribution thing does seem to make a difference with this, and I’m hoping it will make the difference with my caramels. Enameled cast-iron cookware is not required for this, but if this is the excuse you need to finally invest in some of that – use it. You can blame me all you want. I don’t mind.

Pluot-Jalapeño Jelly

adapted from Hungry Tigress

1 lb tart apples
1 lb pluots
approx. 2 1/2 cups sugar
3-6 jalapeños

Coarsely slice the pluots and apples, and place them in a large-ish pot with 3 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for an hour.

Set up a strainer (you can line it with cheesecloth to remove more pulp if you would like) over a large bowl, and pour the pluot and apple soup through the strainer. Generally, you want gravity to do the work with the juice in the strainer, and you don’t want to squeeze the pulp in any way as this will lead to cloudy jelly. That being said, you can squeeze the pulp if you would like in order to get as much of the yummy goodness out as you want. Alternately, you can let gravity do its job and let the pulp sit in the strainer over the course of a few hours or overnight – it all depends on how much time you would like to invest in it. As I am an impatient person, I went for squeezing a bit. Discard the pulp as you see fit.

At this point, you should put a small dish of some sort in the freezer. This is to help you determine where you are in the jelling process once that time comes.

Cut jalapeõs in half and slice very thin – you can leave as many seeds in as you would like depending on your level of comfort with spice. If you would like to really spice it up, you can go with what the Hungry Tigress did and use either firebird or cayenne chilies – it’s all up to you. I would simply recommend wearing gloves while you handle the chilies; I once made salsa, forgot to glove up, and hours after I sliced the jalapeños (and washed my hands dozens of times) I removed my contacts…. It wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say that evening ended with milk in my eye, which is its own sort of hellish feeling.

Measure out the pluot/apple juice as you return it to the pan – for every 1 cup of juice, you’ll need 1 cup of sugar. I wound up with 2 1/2 cups juice, so I needed 2 1/2 cups sugar.

Stir sugar/juice mixture over low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Add the chilies and bring to a vigorous boil. As the mixture is boiling, feel free to remove any foam that comes to the top – I usually use a fine-mesh hand strainer, but I found that it was a bit difficult to not catch the jalapeño slices in it, so I reverted back to a spoon. Removing the foam will help preserve the clarity of the finished product.

After about 15 minutes, take that small dish out of the freezer and spoon a teaspoon of the jelly into it and return it to the freezer for a minute. After that minute, check the consistency of the jelly. It is ready once the sample wrinkles under your finger when you touch it – you want it to be only slightly runny, and closer to the consistency of a jelly you would like to spread on some crackers with cream cheese. You may have to do this a couple of times before it comes to the jelling point.

Once it has reached this stage, turn off the burner and let the concoction sit for 15 minutes. After that, give it a stir to distribute the chilies a bit more evenly.

At this point, you can place the concoction into canning jars and process according to the instructions. If you do not have canning jars, or are not into the canning process (I always fear that one of the containers will explode due to pressure. Any time I boil them – I’m literally standing a bit away, but close enough to address anything should something go wrong. It’s somewhere around the same anxiety I get when I turn a burner on and something on or under it starts smoking – our smoke detectors are painfully sensitive, and louder than all crap.

If you do not wish to go the canning route, I would suggest pouring the jelly into similarly sterilized jars to prevent any contamination (boil the jars and lids in water for 10 minutes), seal them (even if you’re not going the canning route, I do recommend using canning jars as you can ensure that they have sealed themselves due to the heat of the liquid), and toss them in the fridge. If they won’t necessarily be consumed that quickly, I would ensure that each jar has enough head room for expansion, then put the extras in the freezer – you can always take it out and toss it in the fridge when you need more.

IMG_1871

Mikal takes such pretty pictures.

Strawberry Scones

I always get strange looks from people when I tell them I love baked goods with blueberries, but I cannot eat them fresh. They just don’t taste like blueberries to me, for some reason. The best logic I can come up with for it is that from the baked goods flavor and texture, I guess I expected blueberries to be sort of larger individual blackberry ball-things – you know, just full of juicy goodness with a bit of pulp. I am also pretty sure I didn’t have fresh blueberries until I was around 20ish years old. I honestly can’t remember having them before then, and to me, fresh blueberries just taste sort of fruity-grassy green, not like baked blueberries at all. Perhaps my tastebuds will change, and eventually I will find them desirable. Perhaps. Eventually. Until then, Mikal can have all the fresh blueberries that I don’t make into jam (will be doing that soon :D).

Until I had these scones, I was kind of the opposite with strawberries – I could eat raw strawberries until the cows came home, but the thought of them cooked just turned me off. I mean, they get kinda slimy and they generally loose that tart goodness… It’s just not the same. I do make an exception for strawberry jam – it is cooked down, but it’s just a reduction of the amazing flavor of strawberries with the occasional chunk. Preserves are hit-or-miss for the same reason of slimyness. I have texture issues.

So when my grandmother made these for breakfast one day while I was visiting her a few months ago, I was slightly ambivalent. I think I was less ambivalent because I have never not liked something my grandma made, at least not in the baked goods department. I really can’t remember anything she made that I didn’t like; interesting. (It’s strange what you don’t realize until you turn your mind to it.) At any rate, I reserved judgment while she was making them, and once they started making amazing smells in the oven – I tell you, I was hooked. I love scones, and I love the smell of them baking, and the strawberries lent just a bit of sweet fruitiness to the smell….. Oh, yes. And once they got to the table I ate way too many, especially considering there were eggs and bacon and something else she had made along with the scones. I had to get the recipe from her afterward – for that and for her key-lime pie.

strawberry scones

Strawberry Scones

6 tbsp butter, chilled
2 cups flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/3 cup heavy cream + 2 tbsp
1/3 chopped fresh strawberries

Preheat oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Cut the butter into small pieces and return to refrigerator. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt to combine. Add chilled butter and rub with your fingertips until butter is well distributed – it should look like coarse crumbs. Gently stir in the eggs and 1/3 cup heavy cream until the mixture forms a soft dough. Stir in the strawberries.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 1″ thick shape. From there you can cut your own triangles or use cookie cutters to achieve the shapes you would like – just make sure to not overwork the dough when you’re gathering the scraps to pat it out once more.

Brush with the remaining heavy cream and dust with raw or granulated sugar, if desired. Bake until golden-brown, about 18-20 minutes. Serve warm. Eat one or two and then give the rest away so that you don’t eat the whole batch in one sitting. You’ll understand when you make them.

Zucchini Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

It is that time of year again, when I have zucchini coming out of my ears. I got a bit tired of making muffins, so I decided to see what other people had put out in the way of zucchini cookies. I’m not sure what I was expecting – there were a decent number of zucchini chocolate chip cookies, which didn’t surprise me. But then I stumbled upon zucchini chocolate oatmeal cookies. It’s a mouthful, let me tell you. It just seems so awkward to say, and somewhat unexpected. Every time I tell someone what they are they either give a confused blank stare or question what they heard.

So this slightly improbable concoction caught my eye, and I went for it. I made one unintentional change to the recipe, which turned out pretty amazing: I somehow misread and doubled the cocoa powder. Such a great mistake, let me tell you. It creates a very rich but not overwhelming tone throughout the whole cookie, and the oats give a great texture. I only had one from this batch, but didn’t notice a taste or much of a texture to the zucchini even though I did notice that they didn’t cook down as much as they do in breads and other items that are baked longer.

chocolate oatmeal zucchini cookies

Zucchini Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

adapted from Crazy for Crust

1/2 cup butter at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil or applesauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3 cups rolled oats
1 cup shredded zucchini

Preheat oven to 350°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment or a silicone liner.

Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon and cocoa powder together in a small bowl to combine; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream sugars, oil/applesauce, and butter together with paddle attachment. Add egg and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined. Slowly mix in dry ingredients.

Add oats and mix on low speed. Continue mixing on low and add zucchini. Mix until well-combined.

Scoop batter into balls/uniform piles on prepared cookie sheet, allowing about 1.5″ between. (I have to say, investing in a cookie dough scoop was possibly one of my best investments. And go for a good metal one – you don’t want a plastic crappy one to fall apart on you in the middle of your gift-baking extravaganza (yes that happened).) Bake 12-14 minutes, until center of cookie no longer looks wet. Cool on baking sheet 5 minutes before removing to baking rack.

Note: The original recipe says to bake 11-14 minutes; knowing my oven, I hedged my bets and went for 11 minutes, and the centers looked dry – but I found that they fell apart very easily even after cooling. I baked the other batches for 13-14 minutes, and that seemed perfect.