Cake

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Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Published June 20, 2016 by jenmatteson

When I first started cooking, I watched Food Network A LOT. I stuck to fairly simple recipes, which generally came from only a handful of shows. Semi-Homemade was one of them. The concept of this show was to make a dish using some premade ingredients, but jazzing it up by adding fresh ingredients as well. An example would be making a compound butter by adding a seasoning packet to butter (this would be instead of adding your own seasonings). These cupcakes remind me a lot of Aunt Sandy (you’d get it if you ever watched the show) and Semi-Homemade.

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Salted Caramel Cupcakes

The recipe came from my sister-in-law, who is a fantastic baker and dessert maker – hey that rhymed – not to mention a bad ass wife and mother of two pretty wonderful kids! I fell in love with them from first bite, and the rest of my family raved about them. There aren’t words to describe how beautifully moist (yes, I know, some people hate that word, but guess what, it fits here!) these cupcakes are. I usually don’t like overly sweet, so the bit of saltiness in the frosting is perfect. The cupcake as a whole, a little piece of heaven.

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I’ve made these for my co-workers twice now, and they continue to let me know when their birthdays are so I bring them again. Little do they know (until now 😉 ) that these are semi-homemade! Also, the pictures are so bad because I had to take them at my desk because I forgot to take some at home. Ugh.

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Chocolate Salted Caramel Cupcakes

Source: Adapted from Crazy Little Projects
Servings: 24

Ingredients:

For the cupcake:
1 box Devil’s food cake mix
1 5.9 oz box of instant chocolate pudding
1 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt (sour cream will work, too)
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
4 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the Caramel Sauce:
1 cup sugar
6 tbsp. unsalted butter (at room temperature)
1/2 cup heavy cream (at room temperature)

For the Caramel Frosting:
3 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
4-6 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup caramel sauce

Directions:

  1. Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cake and pudding mixes, Greek yogurt, vegetable oil, water, eggs and vanilla. Mix until combined; batter will be very thick.
  2. Scoop batter into paper lined cupcake tins, about 1/2 full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until they are cooked through. Set aside and let cool completely.
  3. Caramel Sauce: Familiarize yourself with the instructions for the caramel sauce before beginning – the process moves quickly. Pour sugar into a saucepan and cook over medium heat. As the sugar melts into small rocks, begin to whisk. Continue to whisk as the sugar turns to liquid, until the sugar becomes a deep amber color (or 350 degrees if you have a candy thermometer). Stir in butter. Once this is completely incorporated, add heavy cream and continue to whisk until combined and smooth. Set aside for 10 minutes or so to set up.
  4. Caramel Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, combine all frosting ingredients. If the frosting is too thick, add more milk. If it appears to thin, add more sugar. This tends to be more of a feel and taste type of recipe!
  5. Transfer frosting to a piping bag and frost cupcakes. Drizzle cupcakes with additional caramel sauce and sprinkle with kosher salt.

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

Published January 13, 2014 by jenmatteson

The final piece to the cooking-dinner party I led a few weeks ago – dessert!   You know I’m a chocolate girl, so this was absolutely a fantastic ending to a wonderful dinner.  To recap, we started with zucchini fritters, had an arugula and apple salad with Serrano ham and Manchego cheese, had a wonderful time making homemade pasta and swiss chard ravioli in a smoked onion tomato sauce, and ended with this fabulous lava cake.  Here are a few quick pics from their party.

Getting dessert ready

Jessica and Janell working on dessert.

Melting chocolate for dessert

Liz melting the chocolate for dessert.

Rolling out and filling pasta

Amanda paved the road for rolling out the pasta and moved on to filling raviolis.

Ladies Night

All the ladies, sitting down to their well deserved meal!

But back to what you probably came here for, dessert.  Mmmmmmm 😛

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

The cake would be wonderful with ice cream or even confectioners’ sugar, but I thought the berries were perfect.  The cake itself isn’t very sweet, so the berries add not only a fresh, bright flavor, but a light sweetness.  You can really use any mix of berries, and frozen would be great and inexpensive, too!  The cake batter itself is the easy part, baking it to a point where it’s runny in the middle and cake on the outside is the art.  My husby is so precious – he didn’t realize the ‘lava’ part of the cake was just undercooked batter, and thought I injected the cake with something to make it runny.  Isn’t that cute?

Brandy Macerated Berries

You just have to keep your eye on the cakes while they cook – every oven is different, and times will vary based on the shape and depth of your ramekins.  The best time to take them out is when the sides are completely cooked, and the middle of the top (which will become the bottom) still looks uncooked, but is in fact somewhat firm to the light touch.  Not that it doesn’t taste good if you cook it all the way, but what’s a lava cake without the lava?

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

Chocolate Lava Cake with Macerated Berries

Source: Adapted from St. Francis/Chef David Bush
Servings: 6

Ingredients:

5 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
5 ounces (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter
3 tablespoons cornstarch
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
4 eggs
4 egg yolks
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon brandy
oil or butter for coating ramekins
1 pint mixed berries (such as raspberries and blackberries)

Directions:

1.  Pour about ¾-inch water in the bottom of a double boiler, making certain top pan will not touch water.  Bring the water to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer.  Chop bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate into small pieces and place in the top of double boiler with butter and place over boiling water.  Stir occasionally with a rubber spatula until chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat.

2. Sift cornstarch and sugar into a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and 1 tbsp brandy, then whisk egg mixture into the cornstarch-sugar mixture all at once.  Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture. Cover and chill batter at least 2 hours, or overnight, before using.

3. In a small bowl, combine berries with ¼ cup brandy and sprinkle with sugar.  Gently mash the berries with the back of a fork and set aside.

4. Preheat oven to 350°. Lightly oil (or butter and flour) six 6-ounce ramekins or small soufflé dishes. Place ½ cup batter in each ramekin until barely risen and cracked on top, 10 to 14 minutes. Cool about 8 minutes before serving. Unmold onto plates and spoon berries on top of each.  You could also serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with, or instead of berries.

Golden Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream and Wedding Reception Recap

Published October 16, 2013 by jenmatteson

As many of you know, we recently celebrated our marriage with a big party at my parent’s house.  Okay, yes, it was almost a month ago, but hey, at least I’m telling you about it!  The party was a lot of work, and everything was put together with the huge help of my family.  My poor husby was sick for several weeks (with bronchitis – though we didn’t know it until after the party), so we had to work extra hard to pull it all off.  And just so you know…the hubs and I made that cupcake stand.  Pretty bad ass, right!?

Golden Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

The day before the event was pretty crazy and I was putting everyone to work, including my 2-year-old niece and 5-year-old nephew.  Here’s a quick peek at everyone:

The most adorable niece, Grace, and my big brother, Matt.

Matt and Grace

THE BEST dad and coolest nephew, Carter.

Grandpa and Carter

The cupcake czar and insanely great decorator, my sister-in-law, Colleen.

Cupcake Master!

My poor sick hubs, Nate.

Nate

And by far, my right hand woman, the boss, flower artist, and so much more, my wonderful mom!

My momma!

The party was in my parents’ front yard and was held as an open house, so people could come and go as they please.  We provided a taco bar, a chip and salsa bar, beverages, and cupcakes for dessert.  I made toffee as favors, which was a HUGE hit.  Everyone seemed to love it.  And if they didn’t, they didn’t tell me about it 😛

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Toffee Favors

Because they have an enormous amount of land, we invited our friends to camp and stay late with us.  This led to a tournament of flip cup, which I must say, I’m pretty good.  Though, I have to admit, it did take a while to settle in, but once I got the hang of it, Team Doily, aka, Lace Gangstas, were unstoppable!

Late night flip cup

I made the cupcakes for dessert – two kinds of cake with two kinds of frosting.  Both the chocolate cake and frosting was a no-brainer, as I love this chocolate cupcake with caramel ganache frosting.  Being a chocolate freak, the vanilla was not as easy.  These cupcakes took a few practice batches, but they were perfectly moist and bouncy (I’m not really sure if that’s a proper food description word, but it was bouncy and springy, like you’d want a cake to be).

The frosting on the other hand was a chore.  The first recipe I tried was an Italian meringue buttercream.  I liked it because it was not too sweet, but most others who tried it weren’t big fans.  So I enlisted the direction of my sister-in-law, who rocks at baking!  She suggested using the Wilton buttercream recipe, so I tried it out.  The original recipe was far too sweet for me, but seemed to please others.  I ended up going with it, but reduced the sugar by a skosh, so it wasn’t overly sweet.  The result was excellence!  I cannot at all take credit for frosting these pictured cupcakes – my aforementioned sister-in-law graciously frosted all 12 dozen cupcakes for our party.  I couldn’t have done it without her!

Golden Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Golden Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine and Wilton
Servings: Makes 12 cupcakes, about 3 cups of frosting

Ingredients:

For the buttercream:
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tbsp milk

For the cupcakes:
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk, room temperature

Directions:

1. Make the buttercream: In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together shortening and butter.  Add vanilla and gradually add sugar one cup at a time on a low speed.  Scrape down sides to incorporate all sugar.  Icing will appear dry at this point.  Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.

2. Keep bowl covered with damp cloth until ready to use.  Icing can also be refrigerated in an airtight container and stored for up to 2 weeks.

3. Make the cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper or foil liners.

4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt.

5. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, cream together sugar, eggs and vanilla until smoothed and slightly thickened.  Add butter and oil and mix until well combined.  Add dry ingredients and milk in three alternating batches, beating well inbetween additions.  Pour batter into muffin liners, filling about 2/3 full.

6. Bake cupcakes on center rack for 18-20 minutes.  Mine took exactly 18, but every oven is different.  Let the muffins cool slightly in the muffin tins, about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

7.  Frost cupcakes with chilled buttercream.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting

Published June 12, 2013 by jenmatteson

I just made chocolate cupcakes, I know.  But they went over so well, I thought I’d make them again.  Plus, I had this recipe waiting on my list, calling my name.  Also, we spent another evening with my parents, a fire, cocktails and puppies.  Yep.  You heard right. Puppies!  Their dog, Molly, had puppies on Memorial Day, so they were almost two weeks old when we saw them on Friday.  They’re tri-color pure bread English springer spaniels; gorgeous dogs!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting

I saw this recipe on Eva Bakes and saved it right away.  I’m not a mint lover, but I do like it.  And you know I love me some chocolate, so I was ready to get down on these cupcakes.  Eva said the cupcake part was a little drier than she had hoped, so I decided to go with a base I’d used before and absolutely loved.  But the frosting is definitely from her site.

The frosting was perfect!  My only gripe is that I couldn’t pipe it on because the chocolate chips clogged up the tip.  Oh well, they’re not beautiful, but they are certainly delicious!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Mint Chocolate Chip Frosting

Source: Adapted from Eva Bakes
Servings: Makes about 20 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the frosting:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3-4 cups powdered sugar
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 tsp peppermint extract
2-3 drops green food coloring
2/3 cups mini chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Combine buttermilk and water in a measuring cup.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  With the mixer on low-speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, altering with the buttermilk.

3. Spoon batter into paper liners, filling them 3/4 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

3. To make frosting, beat butter on medium speed in the bowl of a stand mixer for 30-60 seconds, until smooth and creamy.  Reduce mixer speed to low and add 3 cups powdered sugar, heavy cream, peppermint extract and food coloring.  Once the sugar is combined, turn the mixer to high and beat for 3 minutes.  Adjust to desired taste and consistency.  If its runny, add powdered sugar.  If its thick, add more cream.  If it’s too sweet, add a pinch of salt.  Mix in chocolate chips by hand and frost cooled cupcakes.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache and Coconut (or not)

Published May 23, 2013 by jenmatteson

Last Friday, my family celebrated Mother’s Day (late) and my dad’s birthday.  They are always so close, and it’s hard to get my family together with work and the little ones, that it’s easiest for us to celebrate these two events together.  We certainly cannot celebrate birthdays without a cake, and Mother’s Day without dessert?  Well that just doesn’t seem right!  Lucky for me, I had just seen this recipe in the latest Food and Wine, which I was dying to make.  Perfect!  Well, sort of.  My mom doesn’t like coconut (unless it’s in the rum in her Panty Ripper).  So I garnished half the cupcakes with the toasted coconut and the other half with shaved bittersweet chocolate.  Both were a hit!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache

My honey is so precious when it comes to his food.  I think I’ve mentioned before he can be quite protective of his leftovers.  When we were heading to my parents house this weekend to pick up some plants, I grabbed some of the leftover cupcakes to give to them.  We still had 8 leftover from Friday, and while we certainly could eat that many cupcakes, we really don’t need to.  While I was putting the container in the backseat of the car, Nate asks adorably, “What are you doing with those?”  I tell him, ” I’m bringing them for my parents,” and he said like a stubborn child, “Well, how many?”  At this point, he was just too cute to take seriously.  I told him we didn’t need a dozen cupcakes (exaggerating slightly).  When he later went to get a cupcake, he asked where the rest were because I had told him we had a dozen.  So precious.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache

He was certainly in his right mind questioning giving away these suckers.  They were so delicious.  The cake was moist and fluffy, and the ganache (basically a chocolate frosting – but look it up for a more distinct description) was so creamy and rich, with just a hint of the caramel.  I loved the coconut topping, but if you aren’t fan, skip it, or add shaved chocolate like I did.  I’m assuming my mom really enjoyed them, seeing as how when I brought them over, she got herself a plate and ate one right then and there.  Love love love sharing my food, especially when people really like it!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache

Chocolate Cupcakes with Caramel Ganache and Coconut

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: Makes 18 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the frosting:
12 oz milk chocolate, finely chopped
2 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream

For the cupcakes:
1 cup plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
12 oz unsweetened large-flaked coconut (spend the money to get the large flake stuff, not that other shredded crap)

Directions:

1. Make the Frosting.  In a large mixing bowl, combine both chocolates.  In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and cook over moderate heat until sugar is dissolved.  Boil without stirring, scraping down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush occasionally, until a deep-amber color forms, about 8 to 10 minutes (mine only took 6 minutes before it started to get too dark, so keep a very close eye on it).  Reduce heat to low and carefully add the cream; it will bubble vigorously.  Whisk until smooth, then pour caramel over chocolate.  Let stand for 2 minutes, then whisk until frosting is smooth.  Refrigerate until cool but spreadable, about 2 hours.

2. Meanwhile, make the cupcakes.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 18 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Combine buttermilk and water in a measuring cup.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter with both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Beat in egg and vanilla.  With the mixer on low-speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, altering with the buttermilk.

 

Toasted Flaked Coconut

3. Spoon batter into paper liners, filling them 3/4 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until a tester inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

4. Meanwhile, spread coconut out on rimmed baking sheet and toast for 2 to 3 minutes, until lightly golden.  Let cool.

5. Frost the cupcakes and top with toasted coconut.  Or don’t.  I don’t care.

 

 

 

 

 

Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

Published March 12, 2013 by jenmatteson

I have something to get off my chest.  A minor pet peeve of mine that too many people are guilty of.  St. Patrick’s Day is this Sunday and I certainly don’t want any of you looking foolish while touting your whereabouts or whatshappenings on Facebook or Twitter on this drunken Irish holiday.  If you are going to shorten St. Patrick’s Day to St. Paddy’s Day, it’s Paddy, not Patty.  Patty is a name for a girl (short for Patricia) or a burger.  Paddy is derived from the Irish, Pádraig, hence those mysterious double-Ds. Here is some other Irish info you might want to enlighten yourself on before indulging this weekend.

Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream Frosting

Now, let’s talk about dessert!  I have saved this recipe for a year, just waiting to make it for this holiday.  I wouldn’t hang on to this recipe for another year before making it again!  You shouldn’t either.

Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream Frosting

These little buggers turned out great!  The Guinness really brings out the cocoa but keeps the cupcakes super moist and airy, with a sinful chocolatey delight!  I was worried that the frosting might be too liquor-y tasting, but once it was paired with the cupcake, they complimented each other perfectly.  The frosting is light, fluffy and perfectly sweet.  I am looking forward to serving these at our pre-St. Paddy’s Day celebration on Saturday!

**UPDATE: 3/19/2013 – Everyone loved these cupcakes.  I brought leftovers to work and one of my co-workers said it was the best cupcake she’d ever eaten. What a compliment!  I had several other nice compliments from everyone who tried them.  What a hit!

Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey's Buttercream Frosting

Guinness Cupcakes with Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting

Source: Adapted from Tide and Thyme
Servings: 22 cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 bottle Guinness
2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 eggs
2/3 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt (sour cream will work too)

For the frosting:
1 stick unsalted butter
3 to 4 cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tbsp Bailey’s Irish cream
1 tbsp heavy cream

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

2. In a saucepan, bring Guinness and butter to a simmer over medium heat.  Once butter has completely melted, whisk in cocoa powder until smooth.  Remove from heat to cool slightly.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat eggs and yogurt until blended.  Add Guinness and butter mixture and mix until just combined.  Slowly add in flour mixture and beat until mixture is well combined.

4. Line cupcake pan with liners, and fill liners 2/3 – 3/4 of the way full.  Bake until cakes are just cooked through and an inserted toothpick comes out clean, about 17 minutes.  Cool slightly, remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack before frosting.

5. For the frosting, place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat until creamy.  Gradually add the sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well in between additions.  Add sugar until the frosting is desired consistency (making it just slightly thicker is ideal because the Bailey’s and cream will loosen it up a bit).  Add Bailey’s and cream and whip until combined.  Add additional sugar if necessary.  Frost cupcakes once they’ve cooled completely.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Published February 10, 2013 by jenmatteson

Let me start by saying Nate doesn’t like carrot cake.  There aren’t many things he doesn’t like, but unless I see him eat it and then he says he doesn’t like, I don’t believe him.  Knowing that he doesn’t like carrot cake, I wasn’t really planning on making it, however, I had some cream cheese frosting left over from my red velvet cupcakes that I wanted to use up.  I decided that I’d make carrot cake, and seeing as though Nate “doesn’t like” carrot cake, I’d make cupcakes, so they are easy to bring into work, rather than a whole giant cake.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I didn’t have a recipe in mind before I started, so I headed over to Prevention RD, on of my faves, to see if Nicole had any recipes.  What do you know?  She did!  Even better, she had a lightened up version of the cake.  Score!  I’ve had this huge tub of fat-free plain yogurt in my fridge for a few weeks, which I bought on accident.  I was meaning to buy plain yogurt, which I almost never buy non-Greek style, for perfectly flakey buttery pie crust.  I didn’t want to use the fat-free for the pie crust, as it was for an event I was doing, and didn’t want to take any risks.  I decided to cut the butter in the recipe with the yogurt.  There isn’t a lot of butter, but at least it’s a start on making a dent in that vat of yogurt!  When you are substituting yogurt for butter in baking, you need to use half the original amount of butter, and half the amount of yogurt as butter.  So for example, if a recipe calls for 1 cup butter, you would use 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup yogurt.  Nicole’s recipe called for 6 tbsp butter, so I used 3 tbsp butter, and 1 1/2 tbsp yogurt.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

The result was great!  The cakes were moist and fluffy, with a rich sinful flavor.  The frosting was really unnecessary, but I used what I had left anyway, because although frosting isn’t “necessary”, it’s still delicious!  Even better, Nate said they were “really good”.  This is why I never believe him when he says he doesn’t like something…what does he know?

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Source: Adapted from Prevention RD
Servings: 52 mini cupcakes

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups grated carrots (about 5 carrots)
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 1/2 tbsp fat-free plain yogurt*
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk
*you can substitute the yogurt for 3 more tbsp of butter

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add grated carrots to flour mixture, and toss to combine.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine sugars, butter and yogurt.  Beat at medium speed until well combined.  Add eggs one at a time, then vanilla extract.  Add flour and buttermilk while mixing, alternating between the two, starting and ending with flour.   mixture.  Continue to mix until all ingredients are well combined.

3. Prepare a mini cupcake tin with cooking spray (or cupcake wrappers).  Spoon 1 tbsp batter into each cup.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool.

4. Top with cream cheese frosting, if desired.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Published January 27, 2013 by jenmatteson

From some reason, Nate thinks that red velvet is my favorite cake ever.  Guess what?  It isn’t.  I think it might be his.  It’s quite funny whenever we see it somewhere or on a menu, he says, “Red velvet cake, honey!  You love that!  Do you want to get some?”  To be fair, I think he thinks this because of a date we had a few years ago, which happened to be Cinco de Mayo.  We didn’t really plan for it, but since it was, we went to a little Mexican place in St. Paul that I like.  It’s somewhat close to actual Mexican food, not super Americanized Mexican food.  We got free tequilla shots for each drink we ordered!  I guess that’s not such a positive thing, seeing as though I’m not really a tequilla fan, but hey, free shots?  Okay.  Anyway, after dinner, we went to a nearby restaurant to have dessert and a bottle of wine.  Both were amazing, but the red velvet cake?  Wow.  It was so good.  I couldn’t stop talking about how I was having a love affair with it!  So, again, to his credit, he continues to think it’s my favorite.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Anyway, red velvet is on my 30 Before 30 list, and I really need to get crackin’ on that list if I want to finish it up before my birthday (July).  Lots of seafood left after this – I’m surly not complaining!  I decided to make mini cupcakes for a ladies night at my house.

I stopped at the grocery store on my way home from work, got everything on my list and headed home.  After getting in some comfy clothes, I went to work.  When I took out my mini muffin pan, I quickly realized that I forgot to get cupcake wrappers.  UGH.  I was already in my pjs, made myself a cocktail and was not about to go out in the below zero cold again just to get them.  So I went without.  Not like it’s that big of a deal, but I feel like the outside would have been a bit more soft had I used them.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

When looking for recipes, I first consulted my friends on my What’s Cooking board. I was directed to The Way the Cookie Crumbles for a red velvet cake comparison.  My goodness, this was quite an extensive comparison.  I can’t imagine how many cupcakes she must have had in her house after trying them all!  After reading through, I settled on her adapted recipe from her favorite.  I did half the entire recipe, and I have to remind you that I’m not a baker, therefore, not a very good decorator.  I must say, the recipe was not disappointing in the least!  The cake was light and fluffy, with a slight hint of the cocoa powder, and the frosting was tangy and creamy, though not super rich.  Fantastic!

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Red Velvet Cupcakes

Source: Adapted from The Way the Cookie Crumbles
Servings: Makes 36 mini cupcakes

Ingredients:

For the cake:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tbsp red food coloring
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp white distilled vinegar

For the frosting:
6 oz cream cheese, softened
6 oz butter, softened
3/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla and vinegar until well combined.  Slowly add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

3. Prepare muffin tin with a light spray of olive oil, or use muffin wrappers.  Fill tins with about 1 tbsp of batter.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until just cooked through.  Be carefull not to over cook as the cake will lose its moisture and fluffiness.  Turn out onto a wire rake to cool.

4. In bowl of a stand mixer, beat together cream cheese and butter until well combined.  Add vanilla and confectioners’ sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 5-7 minutes.

5. Pipe frosting onto each cupcake.  Refrigerate for 2 hours to set frosting.

Triple Double Chocolate Cake

Published October 23, 2012 by jenmatteson

I’m hoping anyone else who is a blogger might be able to relate to this, but I’ve had this draft post saved since May.  Yes, I am quite aware that it’s the end of October, but I kinda just forgot about this until I sifted through some drafts that I had.  I remember writing the commentary in the post, but saving the recipe for later because it was a bit cumbersome.  Apparently, I forgot.  Anyway, I think this might have been one of the first cakes I’ve ever made that was not from a box, so I’m pretty proud!  I’m also craving the dark chocolate mousse.  It was so delicious!

I was originally planning a French silk pie for Mother’s Day, but we were celebrating my dad’s birthday as well, so I decided a cake was in order.  For as long as I can remember, he’s always had a chocolate cake for his birthdays, so I thought it was a good time to try out a cake recipe from Food and Wine that I’d been holding on to for a while.  The article in Food and Wine actually gives two different kinds of cakes (double chocolate or brown butter), with three different fillings (dark, milk, or white chocolate mousse) and three different frostings (rich or white chocolate buttercream, or hazelnut buttercream) to pick and choose from.  I went with the chocolate cake, with dark chocolate mousse filling, and chocolate buttercream frosting, hence the “triple” in the name.  The double comes from the double layer cake.  I’m so creative, right? 😉  Who says I don’t know anything about basketball?

The finished product was missing something visually, so I decided to add chopped pecans to add a bit of pop to the cake.  It actually looked like something I wanted to try!

I may have mentioned this in the past, but…I’m not a baker.  My cakes still seemed a little undercooked when the allotted 25 minutes was up, as when I inserted my toothpick, it didn’t come out crumbly, or clean, it was wet with cake batter.  So, I baked the cakes a bit longer.  Probably too long, because it ended up being slightly dry.  It still tasted amazing, but would have been much better had I not over-baked the cake 😦 , or so I thought….

Two days later, the cake was sitting out on my counter and I thought I’d bring it into work to share.  I popped the top off and taste tested a little piece (just to make sure it was good enough to share), and it actually tasted better than when we had it on Mother’s Day/my dad’s birthday.  It was so incredibly moist, I almost hacked off a piece for breakfast.  Almost.

My conclusion is that it was better because the cake came right out of the refrigerator on Sunday, and today, it was just sitting out at room temperature.  So guess what, I decided not to bring it into the office 😉

The chocolate mousse was the best part!  The recipe makes a lot, and I had quite a bit leftover.  I even tried to add more to the middle, but didn’t want it oozing out the sides when I put on the second layer.  While I was frosting the cake, I had to have Nate try the mousse right away.  It was so amazing!!  The buttercream frosting was nothing to poo-poo either – it was extremely creamy, but still had a light texture, so the cake wasn’t too chocolatey (is that even a thing?).

Triple Double Chocolate Cake

Source: Food and Wine
Servings: 12

Ingredients:

For the Cake:
2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
unsalted butter, for greasing pans
1 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 1/2 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Dark Chocolate Mousse:
1/2 tsp unflavored gelatin
1/2 tbsp water
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
2 tbsp coffee liqueur
2 large egg yolks
2 tbsp sugar
pinch of salt
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and cooled

For the Chocolate Buttercream Frosting:
1 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 sticks plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into tbsps, at room temperature
4 oz extra bittersweet chocolate,  melted and cooled

Directions for cake:

1. In a small bowl, whisk together 2 tbsp of each flour and cocoa powder.  Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line the bottom with parchment paper.  Butter the paper and dust the pans with the flour-cocoa powder mixture.  Tap out any excess.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk 2 cups of flour with 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, beat eggs with brown sugar and remaining 1/2 cup plus 1 tbsp sugar at medium-high speed until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Reduce speed to medium and slowly add in 1/2 cup oil.  Continue to whisk for 3 minutes.  Beat in melted chocolate and slowly stream in remaining oil, until thoroughly blended.  At a low-speed, mix in buttermilk and vanilla.  Remove bowl from stand and mix in dry ingredients by hand.

4.  Pour cake batter into prepared pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out with few moist crumbs attached.  Cool cakes in pans for 20 minutes, then invert them onto a wire rack, removing the parchment paper, and let cool completely.

5. Set one layer of cake on a platter.  Spread the mousse filling on top and cover with second layer of cake.  Frost cake all over with a thin layer of buttercream.  Refrigerate until set, about 5-10 minutes.  Frost cake with remaining buttercream  Refrigerate the cake until the frosting in firm, at least 15 minutes, before serving.

Directions for the dark chocolate mousse:

1. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand until softened.

2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl or bowl of stand mixer, beat cream until softly whipped using stand mixer or handheld electric mixer.  Refrigerate until chilled, about 10 minutes.

3. In a small, microwave safe bowl, heat coffee liqueur until hot, about 45 seconds.  Stir in the soften gelatin until dissolved.

4. In another medium bowl, beat egg yolks with sugar and salt at high-speed until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes.  Continue beating and add in coffee liqueur-gelatin liquid and melted chocolate.  Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to ensure ingredients are thoroughly combined.  Fold in whipped cream using a rubber spatula in two additions.  Scrap mousse into a bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.

Directions for chocolate buttercream:

1.  In a food processor, pulse the sugar until powdery.  Transfer to a medium heat-proof bowl and whisk in egg whites and salt.  Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and whisk gently until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes.

2. Transfer warm egg white mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk.  Add vanilla and beat at medium-high speed until stiff and glossy, about 8 minutes.  Beat in butter a few pieces at a time, fulling incorporating them before adding more.  The buttercream should be light and fluffy.  If it appears runny at anytime, transfer to the freezer for 5-10 minutes, return to stand mixer and continue.

3. Beat in melted chocolate until fully incorporated, scraping down the sides and bottom of bowl.  Remove bowl from mixer and beat with a wooden spoon to remove any air bubbles.

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