January 22, 2012

Lavender Lemon Cupcakes

Yes, there's snow on the ground but let's pretend it's spring. 

Another cupcake post? Well yes. I do love them so what's the harm? Today's post is a particularly special one. After what may be now known in history as "the worst exam ever" - I came home to find that my fiance's mother had sent me none other than food grade organic lavender buds!! 

Look at how gorgeous these guys are! The purple buds delighted my imagination as I had been eyeing a certain lavender recipe for quite some time but have been lacking the key ingredient. But fret no more as these buds provided the missing flavor to these lavender lemon cupcakes.

Oh they're so pretty! To make these guys, I bathed some sugar in lemon zest and lavender buds and baked them into cupcakes. The citrus flavor complemented the floral aromas from these flowers into one of the most delicious cupcakes I've ever tasted! The lavender is not at all overwhelming. In fact, I might even step up the flavor next time by pre-seeping the lavender buds in some sugar for 1-2 weeks thereby ensuring that the floral scent is picked up even more. 

I even went to my local craft store to buy some beautiful cupcake liners and they were so worth it! I could oogle over these all day - in fact, I just might. These cupcakes are topped with a lemon cream cheese frosting and topped with some lavender buds too!

So many pictures! I can't help it they're too pretty! Try this recipe out for yourself, it's too much fun!

Lavender Lemon Cupcakes
Adapted from: Hilary Makes
Yield: 24 cupcakes

1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 tsp lavender flowers
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1 cup butter at room temperature
4 eggs
2 cups flower
3 tbsp baking powder
4 tbsp milk

Preheat your oven to 325F
In a small bowel, combine the sugar, flowers, and lemon zest until the flavors tickle your olfactory epithelium (ack sorry, med school talk - shut down). Add this mixture to your butter and cream until light and fluffy. Incorporate eggs one at a time and then add in your flour, baking powder, and milk. Bake for 15-18 minutes depending on how big you make them. I would err on the side of smaller since they tend to rise a bit. Let cool completely before assembling the lemon cream cheese frosting!

For the icing
2 sticks butter at room temperature
8 oz softened cream cheese
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp lemon zest
4 tsp lemon juice
4 cup confectioners sugar

Cream together the butter and cream cheese. Add in the vanilla, zest, and juice. Finally incorporate the confectioners sugar one cup at a time until light and fluffy. I also decided to add a little red and blue food coloring to make purple (yay elementary school color wheel!). Pipe onto the cupcake or simply spread on and decorate with more buds, edible pearls, sprinkles or perhaps simply devour on the spot. 

Keep refrigerated until you eat them all or give them away 


January 14, 2012

These are a few of my favorite things

Get ready for the cutest. post. ever.

Look!!! teeny tiny cookie on a cupcake covered with teeny tiny chocolate chips!!!

And is that all? No...this has been a rough week, we needed something extra special to cheer us up. They're filled with more cookie!!!!! (MORE!)

While we admit - this recipe involves some pre-made ingredients, it's perfect for a quick whip up and you are sure to impress with these gorgeous little cakes! The cake batter is made with cake mix and the usual players but we added pudding and sour cream to give an extra kick of moisture. Also - added bonus, the pudding added another layer of delicious taste bud delighting chocolate.

The cookies inside are a fun surprise but gosh how cute is the frosting? It's buttercream, in case any of you were wondering.

Cutest. post. ever, right?! How could anyone have a bad week after seeing and eating these guys. Especially if you're like us - because we sampled them in every single part of their assembly process. We licked the bowl, we ate the mini cookies, we sampled them warm and unfrosted, then the frosting, and then in their completion. They're that good.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes
Adapted from: mybakingaddiction
Yield: 24 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:
1 box devil's food cake mix (we used Mr. Duncan Hines)
1 5.9 oz package instant chocolate pudding mix
1 cup sour cream
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
1 tablespoon instant espresso granules
1/2 cup warm water
Your favorite variety of premade cookie dough

For the frosting:
3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 pounds confectioner's sugar
4-6 tablespoons heavy cream or milk

Preheat your oven to 350F. Dissolve your instant espresso granules in 1/2 warm water and mix all of the ingredients for the cake batter together. Done! So easy!

Line your muffin tins and divide your batter up to half way to two thirds full into each cup. Be careful not to over fill the tins otherwise your cupcakes will spill over the sides and make little mushroom edges and be harder to frost while keeping that aesthetic cuteness. Then here's the fun part, take a bit of cookie dough and push it down into the batter for each cupcake. We took one of those pre-divided 24 cookie packages and cut each of the squares into half so the cookie dough pieces should be pretty small. Make sure to cover up the tops of the dough with some batter if the dough is showing.

Proceed to lick the bowl, spoon, and spatula clean. Also eat some cookie dough.

Bake for 18-22 minutes and let cool.

For the frosting, beat all of the ingredients together until light and fluffy. Pipe onto the cupcakes or simply spread it on with a knife (old school style) and dig in! You can use the mini chocolate chips to decorate like we did or just eat it right then and there.


                                                                                                                Sam & Elyse

January 9, 2012

Modernly cute, timelessly classic Tiramisu

Guess Elyse and I both decided to make something with whipped cream and chocolate shavings the week we got back from break...

My fiance has been on the near obsessive search for a serving of this italian dessert for weeks. So instead of continuing to be dragged from coffeeshop to bakery once a week, I just decided to make him as much as his heart desired.

Gosh that is gorgeous. Who knew chocolate shavings could look that good? For this recipe - I ran into a bit of trouble finding mascarpone cheese but was determined to make this classic dessert and used a substitute that is cheaper, very easy, and definitely readily available. Also, it tastes virtually identical!!

Also - a new camera was gifted unto me and I went a little crazy with the photography. Let's call this one Tiramisu in Nature. But really - natural sunlight shows off those layers like no other. Lady finger layer check. Mousse layer? Check. Chocolate shaving layer? Check check check!

Also - as you can tell, I put them into little wine glasses! The perfectly proportioned little dessert with an elegant presentation is great for parties or simply to be devoured one by one on the sanctuary that is my kitchen floor.

  • Tiramisu

  • 7 yolks
  • 1 cup sugar for yolks
  • 3 cups mascarpone (or substitute: 16 oz cream cheese, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup whipping cream)
  • 3 egg whites beaten until fluffy and glossy
  • 1/4 cup sugar for the whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup heavy cream whipped
  • 2 1/2 cups cooled coffee or espresso
  • 1/2 cup coffee liqueur
  • 20-24 lady fingers 
  • 1 cup chocolate shavings
Beat the 7 yolks and 1 cup sugar until pale and yellow and fluffy. Mix in the mascarpone substitute (for those that can't find it or can't afford it!) or if you can find it and afford it, the mascarpone itself. 

Add in 1/4 cup sugar for the egg whites and vanilla into the egg whites and beat until fluffy, glossy peaks form again. Fold into the mascarpone mixture being careful not to overfold! Finally, fold in your whipped heavy cream. 

Mix your coffee liqueur with your coffee/espresso and very quickly dip your lady fingers one at a time into the coffee mixture. Plate a single layer of lady fingers into a 8x10in baking pan. If you would like your tiramisu with more cake (like I do) just double the amount of lady fingers and coffee dip and cake away! Layer on a layer of your mascarpone cheese mixture and half the chocolate shavings. 

Repeat with another layer of lady fingers, mousse, and top with the last of your chocolate. Set in the fridge overnight and then dig in! Trust me, it is soooo worth waiting overnight. The mousse gets soaked up by the lady fingers, firms up, and the flavors meld together like italian amore. 

Enjoy! (Also that wooden fork there was saved from my virgin trip to Sprinkle's cupcakes a year ago. It's true. I save a fork. )


January 8, 2012

Chocolate Meringue Mint Chip Ice Cream Cake

Even though it’s January, it’s been so warm the last couple of days that I think an ice cream cake is in order! This is a refreshing minty chocolate ice cream cake that is delicious any time of the year. The chocolate layer in between the mint chocolate chip ice cream is a giant crispy chocolate meringue, and adorning the top is a delightful layer of fresh whipped cream sprinkled with chocolate shavings. Even better, the possibility for flavor variations is limited only buy your imagination (and the selection of ice cream flavors in your local grocery store). Enjoy!

7 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar
4 large egg whites
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (I used dutch process)
½ gallon mint chocolate chip ice cream
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
chocolate shavings

Based on a recipe from Epicurious

Position 1 rack in the top third and 1 rack in the bottom third of the oven. Do NOT preheat the oven. 

Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Draw two 12x4-inch rectangles on the first paper and one 12x4-inch rectangle on the second paper.

Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa into a small bowl. (Sift in order to ensure a silky smooth texture when folding the mixture into the beaten egg whites.)   

With an electric mixer, beat the four egg whites in a large bowl until frothy. Gradually add the 7 tablespoons of sugar and continue beating until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.  Fold in the cocoa mixture. Spread 1/3 of the meringue over each marked rectangle, smoothing the top with a butter knife.

Put the baking sheets on the prepared racks in the oven and set the heat to 275°F. Bake for about 1.5 hours, reversing the sheets every half hour. The meringues will be dry and crispy. Remove the parchment from the baking sheets and set on cooling racks. 

I did all of the above the night before I assembled the cake.

Remove the meringues from parchment. Be careful because they crack somewhat easily. (But don’t get too upset if one does crack…it happened to me. Once you have the cake assembled no one will be the wiser.)

Place 2 meringues back on the parchment paper on a table. Let the ice cream out at room temperature a little while to get it soft and easier to spread. Carefully spread a layer of ice cream over each meringue to avoid making any more cracks in the meringues.

Place a filled meringue into a 9x13” pan. Put the second filled meringue over that, and finally the third plain meringue on top. Cover and freeze this for at least 2 hours.

Beat the cream, vanilla, and remaining 1 tablespoon powdered sugar in a small bowl until soft peaks form (don’t over beat or you’ll get butter! And you don't want this to happen to you). Spread whipped cream on the top layer of the meringue to cover.  Sprinkle the chocolate shavings over top. Cut into slices and enjoy your ice cream cake!