Saturday, July 13, 2013

Divine Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream

There are days when chocolate makes everything better and with all the packing I've been doing lately, today was one of those days.  My mother was a definite chocoholic; on a scale of 1-10, she was a 10, which meant she ate some form of chocolate daily!  I'm somewhere a little below, probably an eight--a very high eight.  However, I think a good chocolate cupcake is about the best thing to have when that craving I whipped these up this morning.

I've started packing my kitchen and realized this may be the last posting (of something baked) until I arrive in North Carolina.  Don't worry, July's apron winner will be announced before I leave!  I have a mission, on my "to do" list, to use up all the ingredients that won't make it in a moving truck.  For these cupcakes, I used up some eggs, milk, bittersweet chocolate (actually that was for the buttercream) and the last of the strawberry jam in the refrigerator, which I used in the center.  I also lightened the load of flour, brown sugar, and cocoa considerably:-D

In just 2 weeks, 4 days, we will be leaving a home that we thought we'd live the rest of our lives in. However, life happens and losing Kelly, three years ago, made us rethink that notion.  Our family comes first and being closer will definitely fill our life with so much laughter and love.  Kelly said we were like the "Grizwalds" and we love every minute we share together. 

Image borrowed from internet
Divine Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream
1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1 cup boiling water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Line 2-12 cup muffin pans with papers (this recipe makes 24 cupcakes.)

Begin with measuring the cocoa in a small bowl.  Slowly add the boiling water and whisk until combined.  Add the milk and vanilla to this mixture.

In a stand mixer, using a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugars thoroughly.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate and scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  While mixer is running on low, slowly add the oil.  When completely incorporated, increase speed to medium and beat until light and fluffy.

Sift the flour and baking soda together.  Add alternatively with the cocoa mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Beat 1 minute more after scraping down sides.  

Scoop batter into prepared liners, filling 3/4 full.
 Bake in the preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes--until the tops fill firm, but not "hard."
Allow to cool in the pan about 10 minutes, then, transfer to a rack to cool completely--about 1 hour.

Mix up Chocolate Buttercream:
10 oz. chocolate, chopped or use chips
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
18 T (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Place the chocolate in the food processor.  On the stove, in a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream, light corn syrup, and salt to a low boil.  Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate and process the mixture until smooth.
Add the sugar and vanilla and pulse several times to combine (about 30 seconds).  With the machine running, add the butter, one tablespoon at a time and combine until smooth and no butter chunks remain.  Transfer frosting to a medium glass bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate until thick, then, remove and beat with a hand mixer until fluffy.  

Remove a center "plug" of cupcake and fill with favorite jam; I used up strawberry.

Ah...perfect amount left to fill!
Place part of the "plug" back over the hole, then, frost with the Chocolate Buttercream.
I added a few pearls to dress them up; even Julia would approve of that:-D

These worked out perfectly. I got my fix and when some friends came over to give my houseplants a new home and take our gas barbeque...I had dessert for them--and some to go. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

French Toast Scones

In addition to going through all the junk treasures I've accumulated over the last twelve years, cleaning out the refrigerators/freezers is part of my chores today too.  You might remember I made a recipe in March, Maple Sugar Bars, using Grade B maple syrup, that were very, very good. I still had the bottle in the refrigerator, but not enough to make them again...but maybe something else.
I'm not really a breakfast-kind-of-person, but I do love scones and that was my focus today to create.  I thought, "why not bake a scone that would remind someone of eating French Toast?"  Why not, indeed!

When I do make French Toast, I like to use, almost stale, cinnamon swirl raisin bread, Challah, or brioche dipped into a rich egg/cream mixture, speckled with additional ground cinnamon.  We always had French Toast at my mom's when the bread was getting stale and especially homemade bread that didn't have any preservatives in it!  These scones remind me of those days, only I can pick them up without the fear of syrup dripping down on me:-D

French Toast Scones
4 1/3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
2 T baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold, unsalted butter, grated

In a 2-cup liquid measure add:
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup heavy cream
Maple syrup (enough to come up to the 1-cup line)
Milk (enough to bring the liquid measure up to 1 3/4 cups)

2 T softened unsalted butter
1/4 cup firmly packed, light brown sugar
1 T ground cinnamon

Maple Frosting:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 T softened butter
1/4 cup Grade B maple syrup

Preheat oven to 375F-degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the dry ingredients.  Add the butter and mix, just until incorporated.

While the mixer is running, slowly add the 1 3/4 cups of liquid.  Stop the mixer when the dough comes together (don't over mix!)
Turn the shaggy dough out onto a lightly floured bread board and knead just until smooth.  Roll dough out to a 12" x 16" rectangle.
 Spread the dough with the 2 tablespoons of softened butter.  
Sprinkle the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture over the butter and roll up the dough, beginning with the edge further from you.  Slice the roll in half, then into quarters, then thirds to get 12 scones.
Press the scones down slightly and brush with an egg wash (1 large egg + 1T milk) 
Bake in the preheated over for 18 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool while you mix up the Maple Frosting. 
The frosting should be thick enough to hold its shape.

Spread the still warm scones with about 1 tablespoon of frosting.  
Golden layers of cinnamon, with a maple syrup taste!

Eat while warm and then on to a day's work...for me it's packing. Enjoy!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Lemon~Poppy seed & Blueberry Pound Cake & July's Give-Away Apron

I had every intention to post this recipe and July's apron yesterday, but my day got away from me with all the packing ~

~and not even a dent in what has to be done:-((  But, I do know that I'm a task oriented person and I will be ready to move by July 31st.

However, I did concentrate, while baking, on the wonderful 4th of July picnics my mom would host.  The great food, including Chesapeake steamed crabs, fried chicken, corn on the cob & tomatoes from the garden, and lots of desserts.  There would be pies, brownies, and bundt cakes and we all made sure we saved room to have some.  Of course, the softball game with family and friends that was played in the field my grandfather had cleared helped our appetites!

Poppy seeds are an oilseed from the opium poppy; my hubby always jokes when I use them that he will fail his drug test!  The earliest recollection of them in food dates back to 1500 b.c. by the Sumerians.  I love combining lemon and poppy seeds together in cakes and thought the addition of some fresh blueberries would be a bonus addition...and a little remembrance of the baked goods we enjoyed at Mom's.

Lemon~Poppy seed & Blueberry Pound Cake
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 cup poppy seeds
4 large eggs
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
2 tsp. vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon (you will add the juice to the glaze!)
3 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup buttermilk*
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and dried

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T Light Karo syrup
juice of 1 lemon

Preheat oven to 325F-degrees.  Spray a 12-cup Bundt cake pan with a non-stick baking spray.

In a bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar thoroughly.  Add the lemon zest and extracts and beat again.  Add the poppy seeds and beat to combine.  Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

Mix the dry ingredients together and add alternatively with the buttermilk, starting and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix on medium speed for 1 minute more.  Fold in the blueberries with a rubber spatula.
Spoon the batter into the prepared bundt cake pan and bake for 55 to 65 minutes.  The cake I baked yesterday took 63 minutes to bake, but I originally set the timer on 55 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool about 10 minutes before inverting it to a serving platter.  Cool the cake about 30 minutes before adding the glaze.

I love the sweetness of the blueberries in contrast to the tartness of the lemon and the added crunch of poppy seeds.  It made for a lovely ending to a day of packing:-D  Next year, being closer to family, I will start again the tradition of the 4th of July picnics that my mom put on each year...with my twist. Enjoy!

Now, I did sew an apron and will not "miss a beat" while all this commotion goes on.  I just love the old-fashioned look of the fabric and by coincidence the red~white & blue makes it even more special.  Just post a comment during the month and you're entered to win this treasure. XOXO
Happy belated 4th ~ I hope y'all (practicing my accent!) had a safe and wonderful holiday:-D

Monday, July 1, 2013

Blueberry Brownies (Blondies) and June's Apron Winner

Blueberries are out and when I saw this recipe in my latest Baking Sheet by King Arthur, I couldn't help but bake them up this morning...before it gets too hot.  My sister had made them last week and raved how good they were, especially for breakfast (it runs in the family!)

When we were younger, we would pick huckleberries that grew along the driveway to our home.  My mother would bake up pies, cakes, and canned jam for us to enjoy when the berries had gone.  This recipe actually calls for wild blueberries, but since I didn't have them, the cultivated ones did just find.

One other thing I've changed is that the recipe is called Blueberry Brownies and I think they should be called Blondies.  After all, there isn't any chocolate mixed in, although that might not be a bad idea, but nonetheless, the bars have that golden color typical of a blondie--you decide.

Blueberry Blondies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
2 cups King Arthur all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups blueberries, washed and dried

Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.  Spray a 9" x 13" baking pan with a non-stick baking spray and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together thoroughly; scrapping down the sides of the bowl as needed with a rubber spatula.  Add the vanilla and the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Add the dry ingredients and mix on low just until incorporated. Remove bowl from the stand and fold in the blueberries.
Spread batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top.  Place in the preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes.  The top of the blondies should appear shiny and the center is set.
I use my springform pan, so removing the sides enables the blondies to cool faster so they can be cut quicker and eaten:-D

Now, the winner of the apron for June is Elaine of Pear Tree Log  Please contact me with your mailing address and I will get this off to you asap (before I move, promise!) 
And, just in case you thought I'd slack off, I will have July's up shortly...the blog must go on! Enjoy!