Flour Child Bakery opens in Virginia Beach!

My mom and I just opened a bakery in Virginia Beach!! "Like" us to stay updated! If you care to read our blog, it's flourchildbakery.blogspot.com.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge - Éclairs

Wow, I definitely almost forgot to post this. I guess I'm just so excited to have a three day weekend! Well, here it goes...

First, thanks to the hosts, Tony Tahhan and MeetaK, who chose the recipe.

I was extremely excited when I found out this month's challenge was eclairs. Just one day prior to finding out, I made pâte à choux (eclair/cream puff dough) on my first day at my new bakery job. They didn't expect me to do it right. "No one gets it right on the first try." But I sure did get it right! :) So I was really anxious to do it again for my Daring Bakers challenge. I made vanilla pastry cream for the filling, because my dad is the eclair-lover in the family, and that's how he likes them. My first attempt at this challenge didn't turn out so well. My eclairs deflated while cooling and were gummy in the middle. I assumed I had experienced beginner's luck at work. But I tried again the same day and magic happened! I made half shaped like eclairs and the other half like cream puffs. The puffed up perfectly and stayed nice and puffy after cooling. They were very delicious, and I was quite proud of myself. I added some raspberry flavoring and red food coloring to half of the filling just to provide some variety.

Here is the recipe with my notes and photos. Enjoy!

Boiling the butter and liquid Adding the flour
Cooking the dough
Adding the eggs
The finished choux dough
Éclairs going into the oven
Door ajar halfway through baking
Vanilla pastry cream cooling
Aww, the first eclairs died...
They were very gummy in the middle (I don't think I baked them long enough).
The second batch came out perfectly. (See recipe below for my changes to the baking method.)
Filling the eclairs and glazing the tops
Don't use cheap plastic bags to pipe icing... They break easily!
What a mess...
The finished eclairs!
Raspberry cream puffs!
To see how everyone else faired with this month's challenge, visit the Daring Bakers' Blogroll.

Pierre Hermé’s Chocolate Éclairs (makes 20-24 éclairs [I got 17])
Recipe from Chocolate Desserts by Pierre Hermé
Pierre Hermé’s Cream Puff Dough

• ½ cup (125g) whole milk
• ½ cup (125g) water
• 1 stick (4 ounces; 115g) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
• ¼ teaspoon sugar
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• 1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
• 5 large eggs, at room temperature

• Once the dough is made you need to shape it immediately.
• You can pipe the dough and the freeze it. Simply pipe the dough onto parchment-lined baking
sheets and slide the sheets into the freezer. Once the dough is completely frozen, transfer the piped shapes into freezer bags. They can be kept in the freezer for up to a month.

1) In a heavy bottomed medium saucepan, bring the milk, water, butter, sugar and salt to the
2) Once the mixture is at a rolling boil, add all of the flour at once, reduce the heat to medium
and start to stir the mixture vigorously with a wooden spoon. The dough comes together very
quickly. Do not worry if a slight crust forms at the bottom of the pan, it’s supposed to. (I removed the pan from the heat at this point.) You need to carry on stirring for a further 2-3 minutes to dry the dough. After this time the dough will be very soft and smooth.
3) Transfer the dough into a bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using your
handmixer or if you still have the energy, continue by hand (I like to do it by hand. It's not difficult at all). Add the eggs one at a time (I beat them lightly in a separate bowl and added them about 1/4 cup at a time), beating after each egg has been added to incorporate it into the dough. You will notice that after you have added the first egg, the dough will separate, once again do not worry. As you keep working the dough, it will come back all together again by the time you have added the third egg. In the end the dough should be thick and shiny and when lifted it should fall back into the bowl in a ribbon.
(My dough was very thick and not very shiny, but it worked out fine.)
4) The dough should be still warm. It is now ready to be used for the éclairs.
5) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Divide the oven into thirds by positioning the racks in the upper and lower half of the oven. Line two baking sheets with waxed or parchment paper.
6) Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a 2/3 (2cm) plain tip nozzle with the warm cream puff dough. Pipe the dough onto the baking sheets in long, 4 to 4-1/2 inches (about 11 cm) chubby fingers. Leave about 2 inches (5 cm) space in between each dough strip to allow them room to puff. The dough should give you enough to pipe 20-24 éclairs.
7) Slide both the baking sheets into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. After the 7 minutes, slip the handle of a wooden spoon into the door to keep in ajar. When the éclairs have been in the oven for a total of 12 minutes, rotate the sheets top to bottom and front to back. Continue baking for a further 8 minutes or until the éclairs are puffed, golden and firm. (I followed these instructions the first time, and my éclairs failed. The second time I baked them for 12 minutes, then rotated the pans, and baked for 12 more minutes (keeping the oven door shut), or until golden brown. I then turned the oven off and let the éclairs cool with the door ajar for 30 minutes. I finished cooling them on a wire rack for 1 hour.) The total baking time should be approximately 20 minutes. The éclairs should be kept in a cool, dry place for several hours before filling.
Chocolate Pastry Cream (I used vanilla pastry cream, recipe below)

• 2 cups (500g) whole milk
• 4 large egg yolks
• 6 tbsp (75g) sugar
• 3 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
• 7 oz (200g) bittersweet chocolate, preferably Velrhona Guanaja, melted
• 2½ tbsp (1¼ oz: 40g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1) In a small saucepan, bring the milk to a boil. In the meantime, combine the yolks, sugar and cornstarch together and whisk in a heavy‐bottomed saucepan.
2) Once the milk has reached a boil, temper the yolks by whisking a couple spoonfuls of the hot milk into the yolk mixture.Continue whisking and slowly pour the rest of the milk into the tempered yolk mixture.
3) Strain the mixture back into the saucepan to remove any egg that may have scrambled. Place the pan over medium heat and whisk vigorously (without stop) until the mixture returns to a boil. Keep whisking vigorously for 1 to 2 more minutes (still over medium heat).Stir in the melted chocolate and then remove the pan from the heat.
4) Scrape the pastry cream into a small bowl and set it in an ice‐water bath to stop the cooking process. Make sure to continue stirring the mixture at this point so that it remains smooth.
5) Once the cream has reached a temperature of 140 F remove from the ice‐water bath and stir in the butter in three or four installments. Return the cream to the ice‐water bath to continue cooling, stirring occasionally, until it has completely cooled. The cream is now ready to use or store in the fridge.
•The pastry cream can be made 2‐3 days in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
•In order to avoid a skin forming on the pastry cream, cover with plastic wrap pressed onto the cream.
•Tempering the eggs raises the temperature of the eggs slowly so that they do not scramble.
Vanilla Pastry Cream
Recipe from Baking... by Dorie Greenspan

• 2 cups whole milk
• 6 large egg yolks
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 1/3 cup cornstarch
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 3 1/2 tablespoons softened unsalted butter, cut into pieces

1) Boil the milk and vanilla in a small saucepan. As this is heating, in a medium saucepan whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and cornstarch, until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 3/4 cup of the hot milk in order to warm the yolks. Continue whisking as you slowly add the rest of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and whisk constantly, bringing it to a boil. Keep mixture at a boil, continuing to whisk, for about 1/2 minutes, and remove from heat.
2) Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the butter until the pieces are fully incorporated. The pastry cream will be smooth and silky, not clumpy. Scrape cream into a bowl and let it cool off. Place a piece of plastic wrap right onto the surface of the cream so it doesn't form a skin. Refrigerate until it is cold and ready to use. Keeps for up to 3 days.
Chocolate Glaze (makes 1 cup)

• 1/3 cup (80g) heavy cream
• 3½ oz (100g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 4 tsp (20 g) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces, at room temperature
• 7 tbsp (110 g) Chocolate Sauce (recipe below), warm or at room temperature

1)In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and slowly begin to add the chocolate, stirring with a wooden spoon or spatula.
2) Stirring gently, stir in the butter, piece by piece followed by the chocolate sauce.
• If the chocolate glaze is too cool (i.e. not liquid enough) you may heat it briefly in the microwave or over a double boiler. A double boiler is basically a bowl sitting over (not touching) simmering water.
• It is best to glaze the eclairs after the glaze is made, but if you are pressed for time, you can make the glaze a couple days ahead of time, store it in the fridge and bring it up to the proper temperature (95 to 104 F) when ready to glaze.

Chocolate Sauce (makes 1½ cups or 525 g)
(I halved this recipe when I made it)

• 4½ oz (130 g) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup (250 g) water
• ½ cup (125 g) crème fraîche, or heavy cream
• 1/3 cup (70 g) sugar

1) Place all the ingredients into a heavy‐bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil, making sure to stir constantly. Then reduce the heat to low and continue stirring with a wooden spoon until the sauce thickens.
2) It may take 10‐15 minutes for the sauce to thicken, but you will know when it is done when it coats the back of your spoon.
• You can make this sauce ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for two weeks. Reheat the sauce in a microwave oven or a double boiler before using.
• This sauce is also great for cakes, ice-cream and tarts.
Assembling the éclairs:

1) Slice the éclairs horizontally, using a serrated knife and a gently sawing motion. Set aside the
bottoms and place the tops on a rack over a piece of parchment paper.
2) The glaze should be barely warm to the touch (between 95 – 104 degrees F or 35 – 40
degrees C, as measured on an instant read thermometer). Spread the glaze over the tops of
the éclairs using a metal icing spatula. Allow the tops to set and in the meantime fill the
bottoms with the pastry cream.
3) Pipe or spoon the pastry cream into the bottoms of the éclairs. Make sure you fill the bottoms
with enough cream to mound above the pastry. Place the glazed tops onto the pastry cream
and wriggle gently to settle them.
• If you have chilled your chocolate glaze, reheat by placing it in a bowl over simmering water,
stirring it gently with a wooden spoon. Do not stir too vigorously as you do not want to create
• The éclairs should be served as soon as they have been filled.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Omnivore's Hundred from "Very Good Taste"

This is a neat little survey I stole from CookiePie, who got it from Sticky, Gooey, Creamy, Chewy, who found it where it originated at Very Good Taste. I'll include a few details beside the things I've eaten, even though it's not part of the rules. There are very few things I wouldn't try at least once, so you won't see a lot of strikethroughs. You probably won't see much bold either, as I'm only 22 and haven't eaten my way around the world, yet!

Fom VGT:
Below is a list of 100 things that I think every good omnivore should have tried at least once in their life. The list includes fine food, strange food, everyday food and even some pretty bad food - but a good omnivore should really try it all. Don’t worry if you haven’t, mind you; neither have I, though I’ll be sure to work on it. Don’t worry if you don’t recognise everything in the hundred, either; Wikipedia has the answers.
1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment at http://www.verygoodtaste.co.uk/ linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison - My science teacher in 9th and 11th grade always made homemade venison stew in a crockpot IN CLASS!
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare - Does Tuna tartare count?
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue - It's very close to the top of my list of things to eat!
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush - I may have eaten this at an Indian restaurant, but I don't remember what anything was called.
11. Calamari - I had some in Greece!
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich - One of my fave snacks. Delicious as a cupcake too!
14. Aloo gobi - I'm sure I had this at the Indian restaurant.
15. Hot dog from a street cart - Not a street cart, but a festival tent (I work for my parents in a festival tent all during the summer and early fall)
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream - Ohhh yess!!
21. Heirloom tomatoes - I know they've been in something I've eaten at my favorite Italian restaurant.
22. Fresh wild berries - I have a blackberry bush in my front yard!
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans - I used to get this all the time with a grilled tuna steak at a little bakery/cafe my ex-boyfriend used to work at.
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche - Also on my list of things to eat soon!
28. Oysters - Yuk! My dad tricked me into eating one at a cookout when I was little. I haven't eaten one since.
29. Baklava - I'm 1/4 Greek (and I've been to Greece), so of course I've eaten my share of Baklava.
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas - My aunt brings these to us all the time. I'm not too fond of them.
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut - Gross.
35. Root beer float - I wish I had one right now!
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea - It's a fantasy of mine to have brunch at a fancy tea room...
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O - I have these at all my parties! Peach jell-o plus mango vodka is the best!
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk - I've had goat cheese which is made from goat's milk... That doesn't count, does it? :)
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu - I dunno if I'd be willing to die for this one.
47. Chicken tikka masala - The yummiest thing I ate at the Indian restaurant.
48. Eel - Had it last night on sushi!
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut - My dad once got a ticket for making an illegal u-turn when he saw the HOT sign come on!
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal - Haven't had one in at least 10 years.
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores - Sooo delicious, and even better as a cupcake!
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake - I can't figure out why these are bunched into one category?? I've probably sold over 10,000 funnel cakes in my lifetime working for my parents' festival tent.
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill - It would take a LOT of convincing to get me to eat this.
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie - My dad used to bring these home all the time when he worked at the Naval shipyard.
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky - Dunno how this made it on the list at all! Haha. My ex-b/f used to be obsessed with this stuff.
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef - Had it at an orientation dinner at Johnson & Wales, Charlotte.
86. Hare
87. Goulash - My dad used to make it all the time when I was younger!! So delicious!
88. Flowers - There are little pink flowers that grow in our grass. I guess they are weeds, but they taste like grapes when you chew them. Don't ask why I know this....
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam - Ew.
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish - Fried with some hot sauce and lemon juice!
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox - I've had plenty of bagels, and I've had lox, but never together.
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Only 28 out of 100! I need to get out more!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Banoffee Cupcakes

These were the poll winner by a TON of votes. I'm sorry it took me so long to post about them, but I've been really busy this week. Actually, I haven't been THAT busy, but it just seems like it. Ya know?? Anyway, on to the cupcakes! They were FABULOUS! I might be biased because I loooove banana cupcakes. But these were freakin GOOD! And the little pockets of melted caramel all throughout the cake were such a nice compliment in texture. To quote my boyfriend "It's soft like cake, but it tastes like a muffin. And the toffee bits are where it's at!" Haha. I sprinkled the top of them with Heath toffee bits before baking. To my knowledge, "Banoffee" is a marriage of the words "banana" and "toffee." Caramel and toffee are not the same thing. So the Heath pieces helped me mend that little problem. I topped them with whipped cream, but plain 'ole whipped cream wouldn't do. I added some storebought caramel. Not the soupy stuff that comes in a jar labeled as ice cream topping. No way! I'm talking about the thick stuff that comes in a plastic tub made for dipping Granny Smith apples in! Yeahhhhh. That stuff is so creamy and delicious. I used it to sweeten the whipped cream. It was perfect on the cupcakes! Here are some photos and the recipe...

I own a piece of the web now!

Ingredients Topped with Heath toffee bits before baking!
World, meet the Banoffee Cupcake!
After Josh and I shared a bite... See the caramel inside? Yum!
Recipe from Cupcake Heaven by Susannah Blake.

MY NOTES: I used the little Kraft chewey caramels you get for dipping apples. I chopped 5 of them really small and tossed them in with the flour to prevent them from sinking to the bottom of the cupcake. I only got 8 cupcakes. Mine were done at 14 minutes.

Makes 10 (I got 8)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup self-rising flour
4 chewy caramels, chopped

To decorate
2/3 cup heavy cream, whipped
3-4 tablespoons dulce de leche or caramel sauce
1 banana, sliced

Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Beat the butter and sugar together in a bowl until creamy, then beat in the egg, a little at a time. Fold in the mashed banana, then sift the flour into the mixture and fold in, followed by the caramels (I tossed the caramels in the flour first).
Spoon the mixture into the paper liners and bake in the preheated oven for about 16 minutes (Mine were done after 14 minutes) until risen and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
To decorate, swirl the cream over each of the cupcakes, then drizzle with a spoonful of dulce de leche or caramel sauce (I beat the caramel right in with the whipped cream) and top with slices of banana. (The bananas will turn brown quickly. Either toss them in lemon juice first or wait until you're ready to serve them.)

Note: Dulce de leche is a sweet caramel sauce from Argentina and it is available from larger supermarkets. If you can't find it, you can make it yourself. Put a sealed can of condensed milk in a saucepan, pour over boiling water to cover, and boil for 3 hours, adding more water as necessary so that the can is always covered. (CAUTION: This method is very dangerous because the can could explode. Watch it carefully!) Remove from the pan and let cool completely before opening using a can opener. Stir well to make a smooth sauce before spooning over the cakes.

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: 5

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tastefully Simple® Absolutely Almond Pound Cake Mix

I'm not really sure how this box of Tastefully Simple pound cake mix came into our house. I've had it in my room since uhh... last November?? Last Tuesday I was anticipating my Daring Bakers challenge, so I was trying to throw something together quickly for "wing night." I went to my room, closed my eyes, and reached into my box of goodies. Pound cake mix is what I pulled out. I added some melted semi-sweet chocolate chips to about 1 cup of the batter. And of course I made little pound cake cupcakes out of it! They smelled soooo good, almost like a Tootsie Roll. I topped them with a light dusting of powdered sugar and a drizzle of chocolate ganache. They were sooooo delicious! According to their website, the mix costs $5.99. If I see this in any store, I'd probably pay that much for it.
Ingredients Plain and chocolate pound cake batterAdd a spoonful of chocolate batter ontop of plain cupcake batter.I tried to marble it with a toothpick, but it didn't work.So I ended up with blacktops... :)Yum!!!

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: [none]

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Very Late Birthday Present!

Don't you just LOVE late birthday gifts? You feel like all the excitement of your birthday is long gone, and then suddenly BAM! It's birthday time all over again! That's how I felt Thursday when I was checking my voicemail on my way home from work. My dad left a message saying a bunch of boxes were delivered to me on our backporch. YAY! YAY! YAY! My old laptop died last year. Since then I've been mooching off my brother's laptop (and my parents' dinosaur of a desktop), so they decided to get me my own for my birthday. My mom ordered an awesome Dell XPS with an all-in-one scanner/printer/copier thingy. It was on sale for a really nice price, and it came with a free 30-minute Flip video camera. I got home quickly (by driving safely and focusing on the road, of course), and ripped into those boxes like a mad woman... but not before taking a picture of them neatly stacked in my room!

Packed safely inside those boxes were a Dell XPS M1530 laptop, a Logitech coardless mouse, a Flip 30-minute video recorder, and a Dell V305 Printer. I don't have anywhere to put the printer in my room yet, so I just left it in the box.

Today, I've gotta go shopping for some shelves so that I can move all of my cookbooks off my desk to make room for this beauty! This thing is seriously awesome! Now I've just got to figure out a way to get the songs from my iPod onto this computer without resetting my entire iTunes library.... Ugh!

Anyway, I must give a huge thanks to my mom and dad. They are incredible, and I couldn't ask for better parents. I owe them so much dish and laundry duty now!! Lol :D

Friday, August 22, 2008

Good Morning Muffins

Saturday, Josh (my boyfriend) and I decided to take a day trip to Belle Isle in Richmond. It is one of our favorite places to go to relax on the rocks and explore the trails in the woods. I always wake up way before he does, so I decided to kill time by making some hearty muffins to take with us. I started with a recipe from 500 Cupcakes by Fergal Connolly. Neither Josh nor I really love raisins so I subbed some dried cherries, cranberries, and blueberries. I also added some chopped walnuts for a little crunch (Oh now I sound like Giada!). And I was fresh out of wheat bran, so I just added more oats. I ended up not pouring in all of the wet ingredients, because the batter was looking extremely loose. I had about 1/4 cup of wet ingredients left out. The muffins came out delicious and moist, but a little on the greasy side. Next time I'll probably reduce the oil by 1/4 cup. These muffins are a perfect portable snack for a road trip!

Oh yeah....... no pictures. Sorry.

MY NOTES: I omitted the wheat bran and added 1/3 cup MORE oats. I made my own buttermilk by mixing 2 tbsp. white vinegar with 2 cups minus 2 tbsp. whole milk. I substituted mixed berries for raisins. I added chopped walnuts. I got 16 muffins.

Oatmeal Muffins (Adapted from “500 Cupcakes” by Fergal Connolly)
Makes 12-16 muffins

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup wheat bran (I omitted this)
1/3 cup rolled oats (I used 2/3 cup oats)
Pinch of salt
2 cups buttermilk
2 lightly beaten eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 cup (6 oz.) raisins (I used ½ dried mixed berries (cherries, blueberries, cranberries) and plumped them in hot water for about 10 minutes)
½ cup chopped walnuts (My own addition)

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C). Grease or line a 12-cup regular muffin pan.
In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. In a large measuring cup, beat the buttermilk, eggs, and oil with an electric mixer until combined.
Pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until almost blended. Fold in the raisins (and nuts).
Spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then remove the muffins and cool on a rack.
Store in airtight container for up to 2 days (mine were still good after 4 days!), or freeze for up to 3 months.

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: [none]

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Cupcake Poll #21: "Cupcake Heaven" by Susanna Blake

All of the cupcakes from this week's poll come from Susannah Blake's Cupcake Heaven. It's the newest cupcake cookbook in my ever-growing collection. Without further adieu, here are your choices!
UPDATE: The poll has been extended to August 26. I forgot I have a Daring Bakers challenge to do on my day off this week!

This week's poll:
  • Blueberry & Lemon Cupcakes:
    Bright lemon cupcakes speckled with fresh blueberries and topped with zesty cream cheese frosting!
  • Banoffee Cupcakes:
    Banana cupcakes with caramel candies baked right in, topped with whipped cream, caramel, and a banana slice!
  • Tropical Cupcakes:
    A tropical pineapple cupcake, topped with coconut mango mascarpone frosting (say that 10 times fast)!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Crystal Light® Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

I've been so busy lately that I didn't get a chance to post a new cupcake poll for this week. So, I let Josh (my boyfriend) choose again! Lucky him, two of his favorite cupcakes in a row. :) He really loves bright-flavored cupcakes, so we sat at the kitchen table brainstorming cupcake flavors. Eventually, he thought of a GENIUS idea! What if I mix Crystal Light sugar-free lemonade mix into some cupcake batter and frosting to make a lemonade cupcake?!?!!? That kid has an awesome brain! I followed his advice and made up a recipe that is totally delicious. The cupcake is soft and moist with a nice lemony zing. The frosting tastes just like the raspberry lemonade. It's so creamy and refreshing. These cupcakes are fantastic for summer! Enjoy them with a nice cold glass of Crystal Light (they should be paying me for this kind of advertisement!).
PS: I figured out that the secret to perfect cupcakes is making them with a hand mixer as opposed to a stand mixer. I've found that stand mixers tend to over-mix the batter. But they're great for making frosting!
Ingredients (I later added another packet of lemonade to the recipe) Mixing the lemonade with milk.
All scooped and ready to bake!
Luscious, creamy frosting!
Pretty swirls of frosting. All fancied up!
These are original recipes.

Crystal Light® Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temp
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
2 packets Crystal Light® On The Go Raspberry Lemonade mix
zest of one lemon

4 oz. Neufchâtel cheese (or cream cheese), at room temp
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temp
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 teaspoons water
1 packet Crystal Light® On The Go Raspberry Lemonade mix

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
2. In a small bowl, whisk or sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugar, and lemon zest with an electric mixer on high speed for 2 minutes.
4. Add eggs one at a time, beating on high speed for 30 seconds between each addition. Scrape sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.
5. In a measuring cup, combine milk and lemonade. Mix well.
6. Add flour mixture alternately with milk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. (You should have 3 additions of flour and 2 additions of milk.) Mix just until flour is incorporated.
7. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (a few crumbs are fine). Cool on a wire rack. When cupcakes are completely cool, make the frosting.
8. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and butter with an electric mixer on high speed for 20 seconds. Slowly add confectioners' sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating on medium speed until combined.
9. In a small measuring cup, mix water and lemonade until completely dissolved. Add lemonade mixture to the large bowl. Beat on high speed until frosting is thick and creamy.

Overall rating on a scale of 1-5
Moistness: 5
Tenderness: 5
Frosting: 5

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Banana Split Birthday Cake!!

UPDATE: THIS RECIPE HAS CHANGED! Read this post for details and new recipe!

Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday, dear Cassie! Happy birthday to me!

Friday, August 8, was my 22nd birthday. Saturday night I had a small party at my house. And as tradition goes (the tradition I started last year), I made my own cake! Thanks to everyone who left a comment a few entries back suggesting cake ideas. I decided to make a banana split cake. Let's put it this way... I might be making this cake for myself every year until I am so old and mangled that it just wouldn't be possible. It tasted exactly like a banana split! I used the highest rated Hummingbird Cake recipe on Allrecipes.com. I omitted the cinnamon (Have you ever had a banana split with cinnamon on it? Duh, me either). I layered it with whipped cream, fresh strawberries, and chocolate ganache. Then I frosted the whole thing with whipped cream, drizzled on some more ganache, carefully placed a few cherries, and threw on a butt load of sprinkles and HELLO DOLLY! Perfection was reached! The cake is sooo moist, and every single flavor of a banana split is dead on. It's incredible! It tastes delicious right out of the fridge. It's the perfect cake for a summer birthday!

Two unbaked cakes on a cluttered kitchen table.Two cakes cooling on an empty washing machine.Two cakes split into four (with mom's help because I'm no good at splitting cakes).You can see how moist it is.Layered with whipped cream, strawberries, and chocolate.TADA!Closeup!This is the prettiest cake I've ever made!And probably the tastiest!
UPDATE: THIS RECIPE HAS CHANGED! Read this post for details and new recipe!
Hummingbird Cake III from Allrecipes.com

3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I omitted this)
3 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil (Next time I'll reduce this to 1 cup)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 (8 ounce) can crushed pineapple, drained (REALLY DRAIN IT!)
1 cup chopped pecans (I used walnuts)
2 cups diced bananas

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 8-inch round cake pans.
Combine flour, white sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Add eggs and oil; stir until moistened. Do not beat. Stir in bananas, 2 teaspoons vanilla, pineapple, and pecans walnuts.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Invert and remove pans. Cover cakes with a lint-free kitchen towel to finish cooling.

To make a Banana Split Cake:
When cakes are completely cool, split each layer into two. Thinly spread whipped cream over each layer. Sprinkle chopped fresh strawberries and drizzle ganache (or chocolate syrup) over the whipped cream. Frost the whole cake with whipped cream and drizzle more ganache over it. Add cherries and sprinkles for decoration.

And how about some photos from the party to finish this post!

My mom & my friend LanceJosh & me <333He always finds a way to undress at my parties!The best friends, Beth & Aaron.
Aaron was on prescriptions meds but couldn't resist Jello shooters...My book collection after getting 7 more for my birthday!