Reese’s Peanut Butter Cupcakes

March 31, 2008 at 9:14 pm | Posted in Cupcakes, Dessert | 10 Comments

I was thinking of that bag of left over Easter Candy sitting in my freezer. Specifically, it was a bag of Reese’s Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Eggs.

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And coincidentally, my generous and trusting sister just lent me her copy of The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard. There are so many recipes I want to try. Not surprisingly, I turned to her Chocolate Buttermilk Cupcakes first. But I needed a frosting…so in came those peanut butter eggs…and the Reese’s Peanut Butter Frosting was born!

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Reese’s Peanut Butter frosting on Chocolate Cupcakes

For the cupcakes: (recipe from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard)

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 6 oz unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a sheet pan with mini-cupcake paper cups.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.

Combine the sugar and eggs in a bowl and set over a saucepan simmering with water, creating a double boiler. Whisk until the temperature reaches 110 degrees, about 3-4 minutes. (I just dipped in my finger and stopped when it felt hot to the touch).

Remove from the heat and transfer the bowl to a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the eggs are three times their original size and thick and place yellow in color. Turn down the mixer to medium and stream in the warm melted butter. Mix until incorporated.

Fold in one third of the dry ingredients using a balloon whisk. Then add one third of the buttermilk. Continue adding alternately in thirds until all ingredients are mixed. Add the vanilla.

Scoop the batter into mini-cupcake cups with a cookie scoop. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the frosting:

  • 1 cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs
  • 4 oz cream cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 cup sugar

Unwrap the Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs. Put in in glass bowl an microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and then microwave for 10 seconds. Continue to microwave and stir until the peanut butter eggs are completely melted.

Mix in the cream cheese then the powdered sugar. When the frosting has cooled, put in plastic bag, snip off the end, and frost the cupcakes.

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Best enjoyed the day they are made. Or wrap tightly and store in the refrigerator. Bring up to room temperature before serving.

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I am submitting these Reese’s Peanut Butter Cupakes to

Masterbaker’s March Event: Easter Candy

Perfect Party Cake

March 30, 2008 at 6:00 am | Posted in Daring Bakers | 38 Comments
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It’s another Daring Bakers Challenge day! You are about to see hundreds of cakes pop up on blogs across the world. This month’s challenge; Dorie’s Perfect Party Cake. I was thrilled, just thrilled that we were to make a cake!

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Rather than one big cake, I decided to make mini-cakes. Still the same process, but rather than bake in two 9-inch rounds, I baked my cakes in 10 small ramekins. For the ramekins I buttered and floured ramekins and filled them about 3/4 high. The cake rose beautifully (higher than the ramekin). When it was finished and cooled, I sliced the top off to level it out. Then I cut the cake in half, then both sides in half again. Very do-able with a good serrated knife.I made several mini-cakes with the traditional raspberry jam and lemon buttercream.

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I also did some with fresh blueberries and the lemon buttercream.

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And for my “I only eat white food” son I made some with just the buttercream.

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This challenge was a lot of fun. I will be making this cake again. I think the recipe is just perfect as it is and wouldn’t change a thing.

My thanks and heartfelt gratitude to Morven for choosing the Perfect Party Cake. I had a lot of fun with this challenge and am looking forward to making this cake again!

Continue Reading Perfect Party Cake…

Berry Good Meringue

March 25, 2008 at 10:15 pm | Posted in Dessert | 9 Comments

The first time I saw and tasted this dessert I was a teacher in Santa Barbara. It was over 10 years ago and I still remember it. Yes, it was that good.

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So I was delighted when I saw this recipe in Ina Garten‘s Barefoot Contessa at Home cookbook. I made it for Easter this year, but think it’s the perfect spring and summer time dessert. Essentially, it’s a huge meringue with whipped cream and berries tossed in a raspberry sauce…my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Berry Good Meringue

For the meringue:

  • 4 egg whites at room temp
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 t vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place a sheet of parchment on a sheet pan. (Do not use a silpat or an airbake sheet, believe me, I’ve tried). You can draw a 9 inch circle if you like, or just eyeball it, like me.

Place the eggs whites and salt in a bowl of an electric mixer with a whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites on high and slowly add the sugar and beat until it makes firm, shiny peaks.

Remove the bowl from the mixer. Sift in the cornstarch. Add the vinegar and vanilla, and fold in with a rubber spatula. Pile the meringue into the middle of the pan, making a rough disk. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn off the oven, keep the door closed, and allow the meringue to cool completely in the oven, about an hour.

For the sweetened whipped cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Whip the cream in a bowl with a whisk attachment. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm.

For the raspberry sauce:

  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam*
  • 1 Tbsp raspberry extract

Place the raspberries, sugar and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer for 4 minutes. Pour the cooked raspberries, the jam, and raspberry extract into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade and process until smooth. Store in the refrigerator.

*If you are unable to find seedless raspberry jam, that’s fine. Just pour the raspberry sauce over a mesh strainer and it will collect most of the seeds. I’ve done this before and it’s worked just fine.

For the fruit:

  • 1/2 pint fresh strawberries, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 pint fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 pint fresh raspberries

To Assemble:

Combine the fresh berries and 1/2 cup of the raspberry sauce in a bowl and stir to coat. Put the meringue disk onto a plate. Spread the top with sweetened whipped cream. Spoon the berries on top of the whipped cream. Drizzle with raspberry sauce or serve on the side. Serve immediately in large scoops.

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mini cupcakes are great

March 24, 2008 at 4:55 pm | Posted in Cupcakes, Dessert | 15 Comments

I made these coconut cupcakes for Easter, but this time, I made them mini. This is my new favorite way to make cupcakes. Everyone raved about them. The small size made them so approachable. Plus, the baking was a breeze!

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Here’s what you need: Wilton Nut and Party Cups. Each package comes with 36 mini cups. No mini-cupcake pan needed or wanted. Just put these cups on a baking tray/cookie sheet, fill with batter, and put them in the oven. Perfect!

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I am convinced (for the time) that this is the only way to do cupcakes!

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solutions week 18

March 23, 2008 at 9:19 pm | Posted in solutions | 4 Comments

Ugggg…still 148 pounds! I worked hard this past week! I watched my eating! I ran 15 miles! I felt my body getting smaller in my clothes! So why isn’t the scale moving???

So, it seems I’ve hit a plateau. Now what????

Attitude adjustment. The scale is not the only way to measure success. So I choose to celebrate (at least, this is what I tell myself!)…Celebrate that I ran 15 miles in a week! Celebrate that my pace is getting faster! Celebrate that my clothes fit better! Celebrate that my energy level is up! Celebrate that my cholesterol is down!

And thank goodness for Grandmothers!  Today at our Easter dinner she slyly came over, smiled and whispered, “you look good, you’ve lost weight”.  Very sweet!

I’m headed out of town on Thursday, so this will be a fast week.

Goals:

Get up and run Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

Strength training Monday and Wednesday.

Walk after dinner Tuesday and Wednesday.

Avoid high-fructose corn syrup.

Avoid hydrogenated fats.

No eating after 7pm.

Running thru Star Wars

March 22, 2008 at 10:39 am | Posted in Diet and Exercise | 3 Comments

My hubby is working sales today. I have lots of baking to do for Easter tomorrow. And I really wanted to get in a 4 mile run. My kids have already been to the gym’s kids room twice this week, my personal limit.

And I just finished my 4 mile run in 41 minutes. Here’s how I did it:

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Yes, this is a picture of my humble garage. It’s been converted into a playroom/exercise room. This is where I do my walking in the evenings and some running. I’ve run through our VHS tapes…Top Gun/The Natural/The American President a couple of times each. Wanting something new, I grabbed our Star Wars Trilogy and put in A New Hope. We finished it last night.

This morning my kids asked if we could go in the garage for me to run while they watch the next Star Wars movie. So I put in Empire Strikes Back. They sit and watch, play horses and trains, color and play “sell”.

And while I run, I field questions like this:

“Mom, when are the AT-AT’s coming?”

“Mom, where’s Lea?”

“Mom, this is the funny part of the Star Wars Wii.”

“Mom, I where are the tantans?”

“Mom”, is Chewy fixing the ship?”

“Mom, is Darth Vader in the good guy’s place?”

“Mom, when can I play Star Wars Wii?”

Rainbow Jello

March 18, 2008 at 8:20 pm | Posted in Dessert | 199 Comments
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I was one of the last parents to arrive at school the day the sign-up sheet went up for the Easter Party. Never be the last mom to sign up..the only thing left…jello.

I brought jello last time and really wanted to do cupcakes or cookies or something fun. Reluctantly I signed up for jello, again.

But I didn’t make just jello. Oh no, not me. I made JELLO!

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I picked up a 6oz box of blue, yellow and red jello plus a box of knox gelatin. To get these fabulous layers, mix the blue jello with an envelope of the knox gelatin. Pour in two cups of boiling water. Dissolve the gelatin. Add 1/2 cup of ice. Stir until thick. Remove any remaining ice cubes and any bubbles that may have formed. Pour into a 9×13 inch pan. Let set in the refrigerator.

Repeat with the yellow jello and pour it over the set blue. Repeat with the red jello and pour it over the yellow. And there you have it, Rainbow Jello.

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I won’t go into the whole primary and secondary color thing, but these colors, when stacked upon each other, create other colors. There is not an orange or green layer. It just looks like it when the red and yellow layers touch and then yellow and blue layers touch. Pretty cool.

Oh, and these can be made and cut a day ahead.

This was a surprise!  Thanks for the tip Gretchen!

solutions week 17

March 16, 2008 at 8:17 pm | Posted in solutions | 7 Comments
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Saturday: 4 mile run!

Friday: I did my 2 mile run then hit the weight room for a fast set of arms and a great set of core work. Finished eating at 6pm and then I went on a 30 minute walk.

Thursday: I ran 3.25 miles in 32 minutes this morning. Finished eating at 6:40pm and then I went on a 30 minute walk.

Wednesday: This morning Angela and I did a fast 2 mile walk and then I got in 20 minutes of yoga…it felt great! Finished eating at 6:15pm and then I went on a 25 minute walk.

Tuesday: Another gym morning…I ran my 3 miles and then did squats with shoulder raises and arm circles in the weight room. Finished with some yoga stretches, my body craves it after running. Dinner was finished at 6pm and then I went on a 28 minute walk.

Monday: I met Crystal at the gym and ran 2.75 miles! Then we went into the weight room and did tricepts, push-ups, abs and lunges. I feel really good having accomplished my workout goal for the day!

Got on the scale this morning and still hanging on at 148 pounds. Strange that the scale does not reflect my weight the same way that my jeans do! Finished eating at 6:25pm and then went on a 25 minute walk.
Sunday: Missed my post last week, so I’ll recap solutions week 16…ran about 10 miles; walked 5 nights after dinner; stopped eating before 7pm 6 nights; worked the weights 2 days; drank water and had two cups of coffee for the week; stayed away from hydrogenated foods and high fructose corn syrup.

In the end, I didn’t work as hard as I had been and can feel it in my jeans. Hello, there is better way to know what your weight is doing then by how your jeans feel. And the jeans that were getting baggy on me two weeks ago have a little less room. So, I know, you know?

Here are my diet and exercise solutions for week 17…

Monday- run 2 miles, weight room, stop eating by 7pm, walk after dinner

Tuesday- run 3 miles, stop eating by 7pm, walk after dinner

Wednesday- run 2 miles, weight room, stop eating by 7pm

Thursday- run 3 miles, stop eating by 7pm, walk after dinner

Friday- run 2 miles, weight room, stop eating by 7pm, walk after dinner

I will update this post through out the week. I need some accountability!

Lemon Cookies

March 14, 2008 at 10:28 am | Posted in Dessert | 11 Comments
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I don’t know why my grocery store doesn’t carry meyer lemons or hempmilk, but I’m getting slightly frustrated. This afternoon I loaded my kids in the car and we headed off to Gene’s Fine Foods…maybe they would have hempmilk. 20 minutes later we arrived to find no hempmilk, but they did have meyer lemons and kid sized shopping carts.

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Who knew a trip to the grocery store could be so much fun! (Sorry for the blur, I took this with my phone).

Those Black and White Cookies were crying out for a lemon icing…and so I made…

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Lemon Cookies (with meyer lemon)

for the cookies:

  • 1 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • juice from half a lemon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

for the icing:

  • 1 1/2 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1 T light corn syrup
  • juice of half a lemon
  • zest of a whole lemon
  • 1 T water

Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a measuring cup, combine milk, lemon juice and vanilla.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and mix well. Mix in flour mixture, alternating with milk on low speed. Mix until smooth.

Scoop out batter onto a silpat lined baking sheet, about 6 to a sheet as they do spread. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 11-13 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Allow to cool two minutes on a tray and then transfer to a cooling rack.

While the cookies are baking, mix the confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, lemon zest and water. Once the cookies have cooled slightly, spread the icing over the cookies.

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Black and White Cookies

March 13, 2008 at 9:42 pm | Posted in Dessert | 7 Comments
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After making the Cinnamon Babka, Couch Cubicle suggested I try a marble rye. Maybe someday. But for now here’s the Black and White Cookie. I found this recipe on Epicurious, one of my favorite online recipe sources.

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Black and White Cookies (makes about 15 cookies)

For the cookies:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/3 cup (5 1/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg

for the icing:

  •  2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 Tbsp unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Stir together milk, lemon juice and vanilla in a cup.

Beat together butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes, then add egg, beating until combined well. Mix in flour mixture and milk mixture alternately in batches at low speed (scraping down side of bowl occasionally), beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until smooth.

Scoop out the cookie batter and place on a silpat lined baking sheet. These spread slightly, so make sure to leave room. I got 6 on a standard size tray. Bake in middle of oven until tops are puffed and pale golden, and cookies spring back when touched, 11-13 minutes. Allow to cool on the tray 2 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack. Frost these while they are still warm, the frosting goes on so evenly and smoothly.

While the cookies bake, cream together the confectioners sugar, corn syrup, lemon juice, vanilla, and water in a small bowl until smooth. Transfer half of icing to another bowl and stir in cocoa, adding more water, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, to thin to same consistency as white icing.

After letting the cookies cool slightly, spread the white frosting over the entire top of the cookie. Let the white frosting set and then spread the chocolate frosting. If the chocolate frosting gets too firm, heat it in the microwave until it is smooth.

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