Saturday, March 27, 2010

Bunny and Flower Cupcakes

These are the cupcakes we made last year for Easter.  I didnt have a baking blog then, although some of you probably remember them from my other blog.  They were a lot of fun to make and Bug, who was two then, was even able to help dip the marshmallows in the sparkling pink sugar and make the faces.  You could use a number of different candies and decorations to create the face, but when we went to raid our cupboards all we found were chocolate chips and marshmallows.  It totally worked though! 
First you need to bake up your favorite cake mix or recipe.  We did white cake, divided the batter in half and colored one half yellow and the other half pink.  Put a little of one color in the cupcake liner and then top with the other color.  Bake as per instructions.
Then you need to frost it, once again with your favorite.  We used buttercream- you can find the recipe I use here

To make the bunnies:
-Take a large marshmallow, hold it horizontally and cut it into 5 pieces with a kitchen scissors, wiping it off between each cut to remove the sticky.
-Take two of the pieces of marshmallow and dip one side into a dish of colored sugar.  Place on top of a cupcake for the bunnies ears. 
-Place chocolate chips on for eyes. 
-Put two mini marshmallows underneath the eyes for cheeks.  If you have something on hand for a nose, like a pink jelly bean, that would be perfect. 
-Cut a miniature marshmallow in half vertically and place under the cheeks for buck teeth.

To make the flowers:
-Cut large marshmallows in 5 pieces as instructed above for the ears.  Dip each piece in colored sugar and place in a circle on a cupcake.
-Cut a mini marshmallow in half horizontally and dip the sticky side in colored sugar.  Place it in the middle of the flower.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Magic in the Middle Cookies

There were a lot of steps in making this cookie.  While I was working on them I thought, there is no way Im making these again!  But when I tasted them, I wavered and I think there is a chance I will make them again.  Although I may wait until the girls are old enough to help so we can get an assembly line going! :)  They taste like a cookie version of a reeses peanut butter cup.  They were really good.  Except the chocolate cookie part was a bit dry, so next time I will either put an extra Tablespoon of milk in the dough, or use another dough, like a chocolate crinkle dough.  So if you have some time on your hands, give them a try, Im sure you will like them. 

Magic in the Middle Cookies (from king arthur flour)

Chocolate dough:
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c sugar (plus more for dipping)
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c softened butter
1/4 c creamy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg

Peanut butter filling:
3/4 c peanut butter, creamy or crunchy
3/4 c powdered sugar

*Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
*In a large bowl beat together the sugars, butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Beat in the vanilla and egg.
*Add the dry ingredients and mix to combine.

*Make the filling by combining the peanut butter and powdered sugar and mixing well.  Shape into 26 1-inch balls and place on a wax paper covered cookie sheet.

*Shape the cookies by taking a Tablespoon size of the chocolate dough, rolling it in a ball and making an indention.  Place a filling ball in the indention and and bring the dough around the filling to completely cover and seal, rolling it to smooth it out.
*Roll the filled dough ball in sugar to completely cover.
*Place on a cookie sheet and press with the bottom of a glass to flatten the ball a bit.
*Bake at 375 degrees for about 7-9 min.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns

My favorite thing about these rolls is that they are so easy to whip up.  You literally toss all the ingredients in a bowl and mix.  No scalding milk, no adding flour a little at a time, nothing fussy at all. Yay!!  And of course, they were delicious!!  These rolls are very similar in ingredients to the soft white dinner rolls I shared with you earlier.  But somehow they turn out more different  from each other than I had expected.  These seem a little more like the "classic" dinner roll than the others.  They are both delicious and worth making. 
This is what they look like after they have proofed for the second time, all snug and puffy!:
Right out of the oven and brushed with melted butter (my rolls don't seem to brown like they should, but they taste good, so I guess looks aren't everything):

Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns (from king arthur flour)

3 1/2 cups flour (14 3/4 oz.)
2 tsp instant yeast (I didnt have instant so I just proofed the same amount of active dry in a T of water and a sprinkle of sugar)
2 T instant potato flakes
3 T nonfat dry milk
2 T sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 T soft butter
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk (I warm the milk up in a hurry by mixing hot from the faucet water, the 2/3 c you need for this recipe, with the cold milk.  They balance eachother out and make both lukewarm.)
2 T melted butter (for topping)

*Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix and knead to make a soft, smooth dough (can be done with a stand mixer, by hand or in a bread machine)
*Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and turn to coat.  Cover and allow to rise until almost double, 60-90 min.
*Gently deflate dough and turn out onto a lightly greased work surface.
*Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces.  Roll each piece into a smooth ball and place in lightly greased 8 inch cake pans, or other baking dish (can be done in 9 inch pans or put all 16 of them in a 9x13, but they wont be snuggled as closely together so their sides wont turn out quite as soft)
*Cover the pans and allow them to rise until they touch and are rather puffy, about 60-90 min.
*Bake the rolls at 350 degrees for about 22-24 min. until they are golden brown.  Remove from oven and brush them with the melted butter.  Give them a couple min and then turn them out onto a cooling rack, pull apart and enjoy.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sugar Cookie Pops and Glace' Icing

There are two components to this post, the cookie and the icing.  Let's tackle the cookie first.  I told you before that my husbands favorite cake is angel food.  Whenever I make it for him I am faced with 11 leftover egg yolks.  What to do with all those yolks!  Sure there are several options, but what I did last time was make some spritz dough.  My mom's recipe, the one I've been eating my whole life, and the only one worth eating in my opinion, uses only egg yolks, no whites.  Perfect.  So I whipped up a couple batches and threw them in the freezer.  Now using them with a cookie press is always a great idea, but I was curious if you could roll the dough out and use cookie cutters on it.  It worked!!  I think I just found my new favorite sugar cookie, which is actually a spritz! :)  But of course I had to take it a step further and see how they would hold up on a stick- pretty good I think, unless of course you are like my little bug and spin the cookie between your fingers, then it falls off rather easily!  Oops!   

Now onto the icing.  I am always so impressed with how gorgeous and perfect other bloggers cookies look.  Their trick?  Royal icing.  Simple, I thought, I can do that.  Yeah, it didnt go so well.  It worked, sort of, but it wasnt exactly smooth and it never really dried hard, it stayed tacky and it didn't taste good at all!  I was disappointed and resigned myself to never having smooth, dry to the touch, gorgeous cookies.  Until I came across Our Best Bites post on Glace' Icing.  Check out their site for step by step pictures that are really helpful.  I tried it, a little apprehensively, worried that it was going to be a royal icing disaster all over again, but a little hopeful that maybe gorgeous cookies were within my reach afterall.  The piping around the edges went beautifully!  The flooding in the middle was a little more of a trial, but still the end result turned out pretty good I think.  I'm definitely going to try this again as I'm thinking a lot of it is just a matter of practicing and getting a feel for the right consistency of the icing.  The girls loved eating a cookie on a stick and little bug really enjoyed "painting" the cookies.  In the picture below you can see some of her "tie-dye" ones.  I thought they turned out really cute!     

Spritz Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter
2/3 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/2 cups flour

*Cream the butter and sugar.
*Beat in the yolks and vanilla.
*Add the flour and mix just until combined.
*Put in a cookie press or shape into a disk and refridgerate to chill (or freeze to use later).  Roll out the dough between two pieces of wax paper sprinkled with powdered sugar.  If the dough warms too much and becomes difficult to pull up the shapes after cutting, just slide the whole wax paper onto a baking sheet and pop it into the fridge to chill a few minutes and try again.Place each cookie shape over a stick and press gently to secure.  Try dipping the stick in egg white first to really help it stick to the cookie, then maybe it will stand up to some swirling. :) 
*Bake at 400 degrees for about 7 min. or until the bottoms just begin to brown. 

Glace' Icing

1 lb of powdered sugar (about 3 3/4 c)
6 T milk (whole is preferred, but others will work too)
6 T corn syrup (1/4 c plus 2T)
1 tsp extract (vanilla, almond, lemon, etc)

*Whisk together the sugar and milk until it is lump-free.
*Stir in the corn syrup and extract.
*It is now the right consistency to glaze.  To pipe, add more powdered sugar until it is thickened and runs off the whisk in a slow thick drizzle.  You will just have to eyeball it and experiment.  Please check out our best bites site here, it will really help you out a lot since I didnt take a lot of pictures and didn't go into detail in my explanation.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Apple-filled Puff Pastry

(click on this picture to see up close the wonderfulness of this pastry)
Do you love puff pastry, but are scared to try it because it just seems plain difficult and time consuming? Then give this recipe a try. It is beyond easy and quite delicious! I'm not sure if I've ever had the store bought puff pastry, so it was a bit difficult to know what I was going for and hard to compare taste and texture. I think this one may be a little less flaky than real puff pastry, but hey, when you're cheating, what do you expect? :) And after trying and succeeding with this recipe, I think I have the confidence to try the real deal now!

The apple filling was gooey and fabulous and would be so good on top of pancakes or the dutch baby I posted earlier or icecream, etc. The streusel and icing just topped it off perfectly. It tasted like a pastry straight out of a fantastic bakery! And the best part about this recipe is that all the components can be made ahead of time and then just assemble the morning you want them and bake. I love it!




Fast and Easy Puff Pastry (from king arthur flour)
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 cup cold butter, cut into pats
1/2 cup sour cream
*Whisk the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
*Add the butter and cut in to make coarse mixture, leaving the butter pea-sized or even a little larger.
*Stir in the sour cream the best you can without overworking it. It will NOT come together completely. There will be a lot of dry crumbly spots. Turn the whole half clumpy, half dry mixture out onto a floured surface and bring it together with a few quick kneads. (just keep pressing more of the dry parts into the "ball" of dough you are forming, while turning to knead a bit. It will feel like it is a complete disaster and will never come together, but I promise it will if you just keep pressing it together. But work quickly- you dont want the butter to warm up!)
*Pat the dough into a rough log and then roll it out to an 8x10 rectangle. Dust both sides with a bit of flour and then, starting with a shorter side, fold it in three like a business letter (fold one side over about a third of the way onto the dough and then bring the other side over top the one you just folded in).
*Turn the dough 90 degrees and re-roll it into an 8x10 rectangle and fold in thirds again.
*Wrap and chill for at least 30 min. To use, just roll it out to your desired thickness and shape. (can be stored in the fridge for a couple days or the freezer for a couple months- just thaw in fridge overnight before you use it.)
Apple Filling (adapted from http://www.goodeatsblog.com/ make about 12 pastries)
4 apples, cored, peeled and diced into about 1 inch pieces
small 1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 T. brown sugar
1 tsp or so of flour
4 T. butter
*Toss all ingredients except butter together.
*Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat and heat until the butter turns a nutty color, being careful not to burn it. (Im not sure I cooked it that long, but didnt seem to matter at all)
*Add the apple mixture and cook until apples are soft and caramelized.
*Turn apples out onto a platter or cookie sheet and allow to cool completely before using. (Can be stored in the fridge for about 3 days)
Streusel Topping (from http://www.goodeatsblog.com/)
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 tsp. cinnamon (optional, I would leave it out if you plan on using it with anything other than apples)
1/4 c. plus 2T. flour
2 1/2 T. butter
*Mix the dry ingredients together and then cut in the butter until mixture becomes crumbly
Assembly
*While the dough is chilling, make the apple filling and streusel topping.
*Roll out the dough to roughly 12x24 (I divided the dough in half and worked with two smaller pieces- then roll it to roughly 8x10. I did this between floured wax paper.)
*Cut the dough into rough squares (mine were roughly 4 inch squares) and place on baking sheet (if at any time the dough starts to stick, pop it in the fridge for a bit to harden the butter. Rolling it out on wax paper makes this really easy.)
*Place a T. or so of filling diagonally on each square. Bring two opposite corners to the middle, putting a little water in between to help seal it.
*Sprinkle each pastry with the streusel topping.
*Bake at 400 degrees for about 15-20 min. (I wasnt paying attention to time, I was distracted by mixing up some dough for rolls for dinner- I just pulled them out when they puffed and browned a bit. Start checking at 12 min, just to play it safe)
*Put them on a cooling rack and drizzle with icing (powdered sugar and milk) while still a little warm.