Cupcake Wars

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Someone’s birthday is coming up and you really want to make something special. Cakes can be a pain in the butt, lets be honest. I love cake don’t get me wrong, but cupcakes are a more personal individual way downsize a bulky cake.

The two types of cupcakes I decided to make were red velvet and spice. These two can be simple and I really wanted to put my own twist on them and make them extraordinary.

I came up with a Red Velvet Cupcake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting, and a Spiced Cake with Currants and a Toasted Almond Cream Cheese Frosting.

 

The results were a hit! It was hard to decided which cupcake prevailed. So I ask you to try these and let me know…Which cupcake won the war?

 

 

Red Velvet Cupcake 

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 3 Tablespoons unsweetened, cocoa powder (this may seem like a lot compared to most recipes but I love how the cocoa comes through. NOTHING worse than red velvet cake that tastes like a red vanilla cake….ugh.)
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
  • 2 oz. red food coloring
  • 1 teaspoon of white distilled vinegar
  • ½ cup of prepared strong hot coffee  (I used a Starbucks Dark Roast)

Here’s how to start!

In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In a separate bowl, whisk together sugar, oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk until combined. Fold your dry ingredients into the wet until just combined. Slowly, whisk in the hot coffee.

Pour the cupcake batter into a greased and lined muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 18 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool.

Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz. Cream cheese, softened (to lighten it up use Greek Cream Cheese and Greek Yogurt)
1/2 cup softened butter
1/8 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean scraped (tip: use the back of your knife to avoid ripping the pod)
1/2 cup coconut flakes, toasted

 

This is easy…

Whip together cream cheese and butter till smooth. Whisk in sugar, vanilla and vanilla bean until combined. Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and sprinkle generously with toasted coconut.

 

Spiced Cupcakes with Currants

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1  1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 3/4 cup currants (feel free to substitute raisins)
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, chopped

 

This recipe method varies slightly from the red velvet….

In a large bowl sift together your dry ingredients (first eight.) In a separate bowl whip your softened butter with your sugars. Beat these until light and fluffy. Add in your eggs one at a time until incorporated.

Add your dry ingredients alternating with the buttermilk. Pour this batter into greased and lined muffin tins. Bake at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes. The cream cheese frosting for the spice cake is the same as the red velvet except the garnishes are different. Top the spice cake with toasted crushed almonds.

ENJOY!

muffins

 

Tartlet Trouble? Peaches & Cream Goodness

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Sick of bringing the same desserts to a dinner party or family function? Me too. I have the most simple solution: Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough. This stuff is great and so versatile. The recipe to follow can be molded to your liking, the possibilities are endless. (sounds cheesy, but it is true!)

Mini Peaches & Cream Tartlets
1 package sugar cookie dough (you know, the kind in the tube!)
4 ripe peaches small diced (I say ripe because if they are not they are hard and not sweet whatsoever)
1/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz. “Greek” Cream Cheese and Greek Yogurt, softened
3 tbsp. powdered sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar (I am obsessed with this stuff)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
dash salt

Here we go…

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Spray a mini muffin pan with non-stick cooking spray. Put about 1 tablespoon of cookie dough in each mini muffin tin and bake until golden brown about 12-15 minutes. Immediately take the cookies out and press down in the center of the cookie to form a little cup. (I used the back of a wooden spoon, lets not use our hands and burn ourselves!)

cookie

Set the cups aside to cool.

In a medium sauté pan cook diced peaches, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt until peaches are tender and the sugar is cooked down to a syrupy consistency.

peaches

I then pureed my peaches so until the mixture resembled a chutney consistency. You will want to go ahead and chill this mixture for at least a half hour. Feel free to not puree them at all and use the diced peaches in the tartlets instead!

Now take the cream cheese, heavy cream, powdered sugar and vanilla extract and beat with an electric mixture until light and fluffy. You may want to add more sugar to your topping but I like the tangy contrast to the sweet peach filling. Fill the cooled cups and top with the cream cheese mixture.
cups
See! They are so cute!

To Stuff or Not to Stuff?

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Okay, I tried to make this dish as light as possible. Lets face it, sometimes on a Sunday morning you just need a big hearty breakfast. This Cream Cheese, Banana & Peanut Butter Stuffed French Toast will always do the trick….Elvis would be proud.

 

Cream Cheese, Peanut Butter & Banana Stuffed French Toast

  • 2 Slices Bread (not specific I know, but use whichever type you want, preferably NOT white bread because it will not hold up to the batter)
  • 2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter (feel free to use chunky if it floats your boat)
  • 1 ounce “Greek” Cream Cheese and Greek Yogurt
  • 1 ripe banana (Unless you like the unripe taste…no thanks!)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk (usually heavy cream is used in some French toast batters, but it is not necessary)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup dark brown sugar (as I have said before, it is so much better than light brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Non-Stick cooking spray as needed

Using an electric mixer beat together the peanut butter and cream cheese. Spread evenly between the two slices of bread. Slice the banana to desired thickness and put it on the bread as well. Make a sandwich with the two slices and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, whole milk, cinnamon, dark brown sugar and pure vanilla extract until combined.

Spray a non-stick pan with the cooking spray and turn on medium-low heat. While the pan is heating up dip your sandwiches in the batter for about 5-10 seconds per side. (too long and your bread will fall apart) Sear the sandwiches until golden brown on each side and the batter is cooked about 3-4 minutes per side.

Drizzle the French toast with maple syrup and I topped mine with crispy crumbled bacon :-)

“Greek” Two Ways

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Tomato soup and grilled cheese has to be one of the greatest American classic lunches of all time. It is comforting, satisfying and ultimately delicious. My tomato bisque gets a finish from “Greek” Cream Cheese and Greek Yogurt

Tomato Bisque

  • 2 28 oz. Cans of San Marzano peeled whole tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 quart vegetable stock or broth
  • 4 oz. “Greek” Cream Cheese and Greek Yogurt, softened
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

*this soup will make more than enough for one, so freeze the remainder for another day!

Saute celery, onion, carrot, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in olive oil until slightly softened. Add in the whole tomatoes and chicken stock. Let this simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. Blend this mixture adding in the 4 oz. of cream cheese a little at a time. Return to the heat making sure to stir in any remaining cream cheese until melted.

Grilled Cheese

  • Non-stick cooking spray (trust me you don’t need the extra butter here!)
  • 1 oz. “Greek” Cream Cheese and Greek Yogurt, softened
  • 1 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 2 slices of any thick cut bread (I used a whole grain loaf)

*I also added thin sliced tomato and turkey bacon to my grilled cheese! #unreal

Beat together with an electric mixer the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, salt and pepper until combined and fluffy. Spread this mixture evenly onto the bread. Spray a non-stick cooking pan with cooking spray generously. Sear the sandwich on both sides until golden brown. If the cheese mixture isn’t warm enough, pop it in an oven for a few minutes. This will only benefit the sandwich and make the cream cheese gooey and delicious.