Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

Peanut butter and chocolate.  Who doesn't love the combination?  But, this flavor was actually chosen for Madi's party because I wanted to use a cute decorating idea from Pintrest, not because the two should just be together.  Months ago I was searching for cupcake ideas and saw these cute "mini cupcake" toppers.  And, they were surprisingly easy.  Just frost the top of a bite size Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and place it on top of a cupcake.  Brilliant!
 Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes (inspired by OH! Cupcakes)
Makes 24 cupcakes

Favorite chocolate fudge cake mix
Two single serve packets of coffee (decaf, if serving kiddos)

Prepare cake as directed, mixing coffee with water before adding to batter.

1/4 cup butter
1 cup peanut butter
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar

Beat butter and peanut butter together.
Add milk and vanilla.
While mixing slowly, add powdered sugar.

Use a large star tip, like Wilton 1M, to frost 24 mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups to look like cupcakes.  I left the paper on to make them look more like the real deal.
Frost cupcakes and add a mini cupcake topper to each.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Happy Belated, Madi!

Last weekend was full of celebration for our family.  Saturday was our niece's first birthday party, my hooding ceremony was Sunday and Tuesday I graduated from medical school.  Obviously, Kristi and I were put in charge of the cupcakes for Madi's party.  We'd been brainstorming our list of flavors for quite some time and finally agreed upon peanut butter and chocolate, hummingbird (because everyone is doing it), and raspberry lemonade.  More people RSVP'ed for the party than anticipated, so we added red velvet (with Mom's amazing frosting) and party in your mouth last minute Saturday morning.

We'll start with the raspberry lemonade because it was certainly the most popular with the adult guests.  Kids, of course, devoured the party in your mouth cupcakes topped with a cupcake shaped marshmallow in no time!  The lemon cake base was brightened up a bit with the zest of a whole lemon, filled with a raspberry lemon curd, and topped with raspberry lemon whipped cream.  I could have (and maybe did) eat the filling and frosting by the spoonful.
Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes (adapted from The Family Kitchen)
Makes 24 cupcakes

Lemon Cake
Favorite brand lemon cake mix
Zest of one lemon

Prepare as directed, adding the lemon zest.
Allow to cool before filling or frosting.

Raspberry Lemon Curd Filling
1 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, defrosted
Zest of 2 lemons
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/3 cup lemon juice (about 1 1/2 lemons)
Pinch of salt

Allow berries to defrost, then mash through sieve and collect juice.  Set aside.
Beat together zest, butter, and sugar.  Add eggs one at a time.
Pour in raspberry and lemon juice.  Add salt.
Cook over low/ medium-low heat for 10-20 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.

To fill cupcakes, use cone method to core out a hole in the center.
Reserve 1/2 cup of curd for frosting.
Spoon in curd until even with the top of the cupcake.  Do this last minute, as the curd will soak into the cake.
Raspberry Lemon Whipped Cream Frosting
1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup cold raspberry lime curd
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Beat cream on high until stiff peaks form.
Mix in powdered sugar and curd.
Frost filled cupcakes as desired just before serving.
Refrigerate any leftovers.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy Mother's Day Cake

This is going to be a short post given that I am supposed to be studying for boards right now...
With Mother's Day occurring yesterday and my mom's birthday today, I thought I should make a cake.
As you can see from the previous post, I'm on a chocolate-almond kick. This cake fits with my kick.

Realizations while making this cake: 1) I have never made a 2-layer cake on my own. 2) I don't own a cake stand. 3) I don't own a cake caddy. 4). I don't own an off-set spatula. 5). You should not attempt to frost a mostly cooled cake in a warm kitchen. Your decorations will attempt to jump off the sides of the cake. (Okay, so I knew this was going to be a bad idea, but I couldn't help myself, my roomie and I are both impatient). 5) I need some serious decorating practice.

Wonderfully Moist Chocolate Almond Cake (modified from

  • 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken (Make your own with 1Tbs lemon juice/white vinegar + up to the 1 cup mark with milk, let sit for 5 minutes)
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans. (I don't own parchment. I used vegetable shortening and then coco powder, worked just fine)
Sift (I never sift...) the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Place one layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread a thin layer of frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake (more decorating instructions below).
Almond Buttercream Frosting (modified from iambaker)
1 bag powder sugar (two pounds or about eight cups)
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup butter
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 cup – 3/4 cup milk (I used 1/2 cup)
Cream shortening and vanilla in mixer for 2-4 minutes. Add in powder sugar, one cup at a time. If you find your mixer struggling, slowing add in milk. Use more milk for a creamy consistency, use less milk for a stiff consistency.

How to frost with rosettes:
Honestly, I just followed the instructions from iambaker. I skimped on the crumb layer because I was worried I would run out of frosting. Don't do that. Silly me. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Chocolate Almond Biscotti

Wow, it really has been a long time since I have made a post. To be fair, I have been studying extra long hours for this last block of school/finals which ended on Friday. Its official, I have now completed my second year of medical school (with the exception of taking Step 1 USMLE which is coming up in June). I decided to take the weekend off before diving in to the 10-12 hour-a-day study routine that will be my life for the next 5ish weeks. Great life choice.
So far this weekend I have attended a crawfish boil with friends, cleaned my apartment, gone for a hike, bought a bridesmaid dress, gotten groceries, watched an entire season of a TV show, had dinner with friends, went for a hike (and am going on another in a few hours) and now, baked biscotti.
Confession: I have only once made biscotti, and it was grain-free.
Confession: I am currently obsessed with almond flavoring, and after a discussion at dinner last night, I decided I needed to bake something with it, so here you go.

Chocolate Almond Biscotti (Adopted from smitten kitchen)

3/4 cup toasted almonds (roughly chopped)
2 oz coarsely chopped dark chocolate
2 1/2 cups flour, plus flour for work surface
1/2 cup Dutch-style cocoa powder
1 tablespoon espresso powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/3 cups sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Toast almonds either on the stove or in the oven, whichever you prefer and however you can do it without burning them :).
2. Sift the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, dark chocolate, salt, baking soda and baking powder together and set aside.
3. Beat eggs lightly, just until blended, in mixing bowl with whisk or in electric mixer. Remove two tablespoons of egg mixture to small dish and set aside. Add in almond extract. Beat sugar into remaining eggs until blended. Stir in flour mixture to form soft dough. (So I mixed the eggs into the flour instead of the other way around, I wouldn't recommend that direction, it was difficult to get all the flour incorporated). 
4. Divide the dough in half and place one portion on a well-floured work surface. (She is not kidding about this.) With floured hands, pat it into a six-inch square. Scatter half the almonds on the dough and press them into the surface. Roll the dough into a cylinder about 2 inches in diameter and 12 to 15 inches long. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper and place the roll of dough on the baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining dough. Brush the tops of both rolls with the reserved egg. (If you don't have a pastry brush, no worries, I don't either, I used my fingers... its a little sticky but it gets the job done).
5. Place in the oven and bake about 20 minutes, until firm to the touch. Transfer to a cutting board and cut on an angle into slices one-half-inch thick. (I let them cool a bit then scored the top with a serrated knife and then actually cut them with my sharp chef knife) Return the slices to the baking sheet, laying them on their cut sides, and return them to the oven. Bake another 20 minutes, until they are crisp and dry. Allow to cool completely before storing or serving.