Saturday, March 27, 2010

bridal shower cupcakes

Last of today's catch up posts, and this one is actually timely. Mark and I made 72 cupcakes last night for my coworkers/friends Sharon and Dorie whose niece/daughter had a bridal shower today. I didn't take a million pictures during the cake baking/frosting making part, but here's the finished product(s).

celebratory desserts

On March 19, Mark and I visited Six Penn Kitchen for dinner. We were got three desserts, since it was a celebration and all. And since we'd be sitting for the rest of the evening watching Celtic Woman at the Mellon Arena. (Time out for a little squeeeeeee!)

We got bananas foster cake. (Excuse my terrible photos - they don't do these fantastic desserts justice.) It had the most wonderful fried banana chips on the top; they were crispy and light and not at all greasy like the dried ones you get in trail mix.

My favorite dessert was called the Six Penn Circus. Homemade cotton candy, whoopie pies, cinnamon doughnuts, and caramel corn. It was really fun to eat and everyone's eyes got big at the surrounding tables.

And finally we had grasshopper cake. It came with a thin shamrock cookie on top, as well as some fitting decorations...courtesy of our fantastic server and the pastry chef.

When she found out we had just become engaged an hour before dinner, she thought she'd ask for something special. :) I won't gush too much in this post, but the whole evening was something special. I'm glad we started the next chapter in our lives with good food and delicious dessert. Seems fitting, don't you think? :)

homemade monkey bread: or why waiting 6 hours for brunch can pay off

I had the genius idea that I'd use up some of the week's buttermilk by making homemade monkey bread for brunch one Sunday. If I had read the recipe ahead of time carefully (which you should always do, btw), I would have known that this recipe takes a lot of time - there are two points at which the bread has to rise.

But let me tell you. It was 100% worth the time spent on it. It ended up being an afternoon snack, but it was so incredibly delicious. Worth every second. Truly.

Get the dry ingredients ready in the mixer with the dough hook. Can I just insert here how much I love my KitchenAid?

Whisk melted and cooled butter into the other wet ingredients. I also love giant Pyrex measuring cups. And mini whisks.

Get the dough hook going and add in the liquid a bit at a time.

Until it looks like this...

And then like this:

Then it's time to knead. (But not as much as I would without the KitchenAid.)

And cover and let it rise. For the first time. You have to let it double in size.

After it rises, you mix up the brown sugar and cinnamon, and then cut the dough into little chunks.

Melt some butter, dip the chunks in that melted goodness, and roll them in the brown sugar.

At this point you throw the covered chunks into a bundt pan (I didn't have a bundt pan large enough, so I used my big removable bottom Wilton tube pan.) and let it rise again. I have no idea where about 5 photos went, so we'll skip that part, but you get the picture. Throw it in the oven. Bring it out, and with the assistance of someone else, flip it. It will smell like heaven.

But it's not over yet. There is a glaze to top it off. Oh yessssssssss.

Confectioners sugar, milk, and vanilla. Delicious.

Dump it on. Behold the glory.:)

Thirty seconds after it was finished, this is what it looked like. That should tell you something.

st. patrick's day cupcake craziness

I decided I wanted to make cupcakes for St. Patrick's Day, but I didn't really want to make green ones. Especially since I had seen a recipe in a Real Simple magazine for raspberry cupcakes with a swiss meringue buttercream. So I thought I'd just put the cupcakes in St. Patrick's Day wrappers and make shamrock chocolate filigrees. Let's start with those.

I drew some rough shamrocks on one side of parchment paper with a pencil. (I say rough because I am by no means an artist. You will see what I mean in a moment.)

I melted chocolate and put it in a frosting piping bag with a small round tip and traced the shamrocks on the non-pencil side. Then for extra support, I made squiggly lines inside so that they would stand once frozen. Into the freezer they went until later! (Notice the 2 cans of Diet Coke in the photo. I am an addict. I admit it.)

Now it's time for the cupcakes. We actually found fresh raspberries that weren't $5 a package. Hooray!

I got the dry ingredients and the milk/vanilla combination ready first.

Cream the butter and sugar, like usual, and add eggs.

Add dry ingredients and alternate with milk/vanilla.

And now my favorite part of the cake making process: when it looks like this...

Chop some raspberries, and put some in a food processor. Add the raspberry "slurry" to the batter.

After it's mixed, add the chopped raspberries.

I then tried to make the swiss meringue buttercream, but since the oven was on all day and the weather was warm, the frosting basically tasted like melted butter and virtually fell right off the beaters. Epic fail. So I hurried and found some lemons and improvised a lemon cream cheese frosting, which I made green. And in the rush, I didn't take a lot of pics. I had made little mini cakes as well for the chocolate filigrees, since there was leftover batter. So it ended up like this.

The raspberry cupcakes were amazing - so points to Martha Stewart for the recipe. And the lemon frosting was a great complement to the raspberry. (The recipe made about 10 times the mini cupcakes you see there. I was pawning them off on people for days. Luckily it wasn't too hard to find takers. :) )

blueberry almond coffee cake

It's time to play catch up, since I've been busy baking this month and have lots to share. This was a coffee cake I made for a Saturday morning branch group. The recipe calls for fresh blueberries, but I used frozen since they are crazy expensive at this time of year. It actually worked out really well because I think the extra water made the cake a bit more moist.

This cake is also really tasty because of the buttermilk. Buttermilk makes an ordinary cake extra special. I try and make several things with buttermilk when I have to buy it because it's a shame for it to sit in the fridge and get gross. But I digress.

This coffee cake is made like a muffin. Prepare dry ingredients and wet ingredients. Mix.

Add blueberries to the batter. Mix it, put it in a prepared pan, and then dump some more on.

Make the topping: yum, yum, and yum. Almonds, brown sugar, and cinnamon.

When it's done, it's golden. I don't even have a photo of a piece out of the pan because we basically devoured it. Next time you need a quick brunch item, definitely make this cake.