Monday, March 26, 2012

Stout Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Buttercream


Late again, I know.  St. Patrick's Day was what, like over a week ago and here I am posting a recipe for stout cake.  Here is the thing, these chocolate cupcakes are simply hands down the best chocolate cake that I have ever made.  My husband went to a home brewing event at a coworker's place and first tasted this moist chocolaty awesomeness.  He loved it so much he brought some home to me.  His coworker made it plain, as a bunt cake, and it was amazing.  I had to have the recipe.  Turns out it was from epicurious.  Now my husband still prefers this cake totally plain, but I prefer a chocolate glaze or this peanut butter frosting.  For simplicity, I typically make it in a bunt pan, but I have made it as a layer cake and obviously the above cupcakes.  

These cupcakes were for a friend's birthday.  Once you make this for people, they will start requesting it again and again.  Many people make stout cakes using Guinness.  While Guinness is a stout, I do not recommend it for this cake.  I would use a chocolate stout or milk stout, they are a bit sweeter and lend their flavors nicely to the cake.  You can also split this recipe in half pretty nicely.  I often do, but there were a lot of people in need of stout cupcakes.
 

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes adapted from epicurious
 makes about 4 dozen regular sized cupcakes
2 cups stout beer ( I use Rouge Chocolate Stout)
4 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder
4 cups all purpose flour
4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
4 eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream 
1 teaspoon vanilla


Put beer and butter into a medium large saucepan.  Heat over medium heat until the butter has melted and the mixture starts to simmer.  Take off the heat and stir in cocoa powder.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.  In a separate bowl, beat together eggs and sour cream.  Slowly pour in cooled chocolate mixture.  Beat to combine.  Beat in sugar.  Add in baking soda.  Add in flour and mix until just combined.  Pour into cupcake tins.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Frost as desired.

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 cup butter (2 sticks) at room temperature
1 cup smooth peanut butter (regular ole' fat peanut butter works better than natural in this instance)
8 cups (1-2lb bag) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla

Beat together butter and peanut butter.  Add in vanilla and beat until smooth.  Slowly add in powdered sugar.  Frosting may be thinned with water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.  I piped Wilton tip 1M swirls on the tops of these cupcakes.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Foster! #2


I made this cake this weekend for my sweet little cousin Foster who turns two today.  His party theme was tools.  The cake is plain white with buttercream frosting.  The tools are made of fondant.  For the silver on the saw and the screwdriver handle, I used the Wilton Color Mist.

American Buttercream
2 pounds powdered sugar
1 pound butter at room temperature (65 degrees or so)
2 teaspoons vanilla
5-6 tablespoons water

Beat butter until smooth and creamy.  Add vanilla and beat until combined.  SLOWLY add in powdered sugar.  Add water 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.  I sometimes need more than 6 tablespoons.

This buttercream does not do well in the heat.  The butter will start to separate out.  Keep the frosted cake cool if possible.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Happy Pi (Pie) Day!

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Happy Pie Day Everyone!  Sadly, I have no new pie to share with you because I have been slammed this week but here are some past pies if you are looking for something tasty to make:

Chocolate Pecan Pie

Lemon Meringue Pie

Peanut Butter Pie

Chocolate Chip Pie
Blueberry Dessert (which is like pie, with a crust and everything)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sourdough Barm Day 5

Today is your last day of feeding!  Like a total dork, I appear to have forgotten to take photos of my barm before its last feeding.  I was doing the feedings and photographs before work and I must have had an oops moment.  Oh well.  It was bubbly and stinky and wonderful.

Sourdough Barm Day 5 adapted from Crust and Crumb
4 cups bread flour
3 cups water

Add flour and water to your barm.  Stir together.  Allow to sit for 24 hours.  Then you are ready to make bread or put the barm in the refrigerator for a later time. 

Tips for keeping your barm alive:
  • If you are going to wait to make bread, you can put the barm in the fridge.  The yeast will go dormant and you can switch to a weekly feeding schedule instead of a daily feeding schedule.  When you make bread, refresh the barm for 3 days to make sure the yeast are active.
  • As I said previously, when you feed your barm, be sure to double the amount of product (i.e. 2 cups flour and 1 1/2 cups water to 2 cups barm.
  • You can also freeze your barm.  When you thaw it, before you make bread, give the barm a 3 day feeding cycle.
  • How will you know if your starter has gone bad?  Give it a sniff, you will know.  A healthy barm will smell sour like vinegar.  An unhealthy starter will smell bad.  Throw it away.  You grew some bad bacteria and it will impart gross flavors into the bread.
  • If you refrigerate the barm and when you get it out there is a layer of gray liquid, don't worry, its alcohol from the yeast.  You can stir it into the barm, but I pour it off.  The flavor quality isn't as good if you stir it in.
Hopefully that clears up some frequently asked questions regarding sourdough.  I have a totally hectic week, so no sourdough bread is being made this week.  I put my barm in the fridge until a later date.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sourdough Barm Day 4

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Today is we are going to do something a little bit different with our barm.  You can see that the barm is nice and bubbly.  It smells like vinegar.  There is a little liquid on the top.  That liquid is the alcohol, the other byproduct besides carbon dioxide that the yeast produce.

Today's directions are a little bit different.  We are starting to get a rather large barm going.  It is important when feeding your barm, to double the amount of barm.  For example, if you have 2 cups of barm, you should feed it 2 cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups water.  I like to use about the same weight of flour and water, which, when you are using volume to measure (cups), leads to more flour than water.  So today, we are going to take part of our barm out, feed it, and discard the rest.  You can throw it away, give it away, whatever.  If you are making regular bread today, you can add in some of the barm with the regular yeast to give your bread a bit of tang.

Sourdough Barm: Day 4 adapted from Crust and Crumb
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups water 

Take a large clean bowl stainless steel or glass bowl and put the flour and water into it.  Measure out 2 cups of your barm and add to the bowl.  Stir together and allow to sit out for 24 hours.  Discard any remaining barm from the previous days.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sourdough Barm Day 3

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Ok, you are still with me here for our day three feeding.  You should start to notice that your sourdough smells a little, well, sour.  That the lactic bacteria doing their thing, creating lactic and acetic acid.  Did you know that San Francisco has it's own strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus sanfrancisco.  Sourdough there tastes different than sourdough anywhere else.  After today's feeding, you are over halfway to a barm ready to bake some lovely sourdough.

Sourdough Barm: Day 3: adapted from Crust and Crumb
2 cups bread flour
1 1/2 cups water

Add these ingredients to your barm.  Stir to combine.  When stirring, you should notice that the mixture is starting to feel stretchy.  Cover up with the plastic wrap and allow to sit for another 24 hours.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Sourdough Barm Day 2

Looks totally gross doesn't it?  However, looks totally like it's supposed to.  Some nice bubbles, a little liquid sitting on the top.  Perfect.  If your barm hasn't produced any bubbles yet, no worries, just proceed on to day 2 and see how things go.

Sourdough Barm
Day 2:
1 cup unbleached bread flour
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 cup water
Stir ingredients into the 24 old barm.  Cover back up with the plastic wrap and let it sit out on your counter for another 24 hours.


  

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sourdough Barm

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I started a quilt class with my mom this past weekend.  She is an avid quilter and this class was her Christmas gift from my husband and I (not that he is quilting anything, mind you).  I don't know a dang thing about putting a quilt together and creating something useful but then again, I didn't know anything about lead climbing 2 weeks ago when I took a nice 12 foot whipper off the wall for fun during THAT class.  But I do know that I love my mom, and she will see me through.

Sourdough starter is one of those things that I think some people avoid trying because it seems too hard, too time consuming, and too confusing to try.  Probably much like quilting, sourdough starter is an exercise in patience, but not difficult, terribly time consuming, or expensive and what you create with it is absolute bliss.  Not much beats warm sourdough bread straight from the oven smothered in melty butter or goat cheese.

If you read about sourdough starter, there are a million recipes, a million ways to do it.  Many people find it more useful to have a firm starter (easier to store, easier to transport etc), I have never had much luck with a firm starter.  I prefer a barm which is more liquid.  Barms are stronger in flavor compared to the firmer starters.  What we are trying to do is to grow a combination of the wild yeast Saccharomyces exiguus and various lactobacillus (bacteria).

Honey is used to feed the yeast.  Wild yeast live on the outside of gapes and consequently on the outside of raisins.  The raisin water will infuse the barm with yeast, helping to get the starter going.  Regular water will work fine if you prefer.  Also, the byproduct of yeast is carbon dioxide, so it is not wise to place a firm lid on the starter, it might explode all over your kitchen.

Sourdough Barm adapted from Crust and Crumb
Day 1:
2 cups water
1 cup raisins (organic if you can find them)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon honey

Heat water in microwave for about a minute or until warm to the touch but not boiling.  Add in raisins.  Soak for 15 minutes.  Add 1 cup of the raisin water to a large glass or stainless steel bowl (not aluminum or plastic).  Add in whole wheat flour and honey.  Stir to combine.  Mixture should have the consistency of pancake batter.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave out on your counter overnight.

Stick with me for the next several days and by the end of a week, you should have a viable, stinky barm on your counter ready for action.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cakies

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I whipped these bad boys out one evening this week when I was short on time and long on cake mixes.  For some reason I found myself in the position of nine cake mixes.  Nine.  Why?  I have no clue.  I guess I feel the need to be prepared in case I have a cake emergency. 

A long time friend of mine used to bring these to almost every get together.  Every time I would eat a shamefully large quantity of them.  They are so good and so easy.  Honestly, I have eaten 2 of them in the time it has taken me to write this post.  I had better knock it off because I am supposed to bring them somewhere.  I like to frost them with whatever leftover frosting that I have in the fridge.  It makes them even easier.  This time it was cream cheese frosting.
  
Cakies from Jenni Keller
1 box Funfetti cake mix
1 stick butter, melted
1 egg
2 tablespoons milk

Dump everything in a bowl.  Stir together.  Drop by the tablespoonful and bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes.  Allow to cool.  Frost and sprinkle as desired. 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Yes, I made more sugar cookies...

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The possibilities seem endless when it comes to round sugar cookies and I am not nearly as adventurous as some.  I made these this week to kick of my church's week of prayer.  They are little take-home gifts for after our breakfast this morning.

The cookies are these sugar cookies.  I have decided that they taste better paired with the royal icing than the butter cookies do.  They are reminiscent of smiley face cookies my sister and I would get with my grandmother at the local bakery.  The only  trouble with them is that they spread out a bit during baking and can get air pockets, which leads to little lumps and bumps.  The icing covers that pretty well, but still, more experimentation with recipes is necessary.

They are piped and flooded and left to dry overnight in the usual manner.  I then piped the words on the cookies.  One thing I learned in cake decorating was to do all of your flat work first so that you don't stick your arm in your icing flowers.  I have to constantly repeat that to myself, I forever want to place my flowers and then write.

The flowers are Wilton apple blossoms that I piped and left to dry overnight while the lettering was drying.  I then attached them with some leftover icing, and piped two little leaves on each side using Wilton tip 352.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Chocolate Dipped Oreos

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 Here in Illinois, the last two days have been in the fifties outside.  The birds have started chirping.  You can feel that spring is coming.  This kind of weather makes me start thinking about my garden and new flowers blooming.

These chocolate dipped Oreos with royal icing daisies are like a flower bed for your taste buds.  These cookies come together fairly quickly, however both the Oreos and the icing flowers needs several hours or overnight to dry.

Chocolate Dipped Oreos 
1 package Double Stuff Oreos
2 packages Candy Melts (I used pink and milk chocolate)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
About 2 dozen lollipop sticks
1/2 recipe royal icing or premade royal icing flowers
wax paper

I used leftover yellow Candy Melts to adhere the stick to the cookie
  1. Melt Candy Melts according to manufacturer's directions.  I added in about a tablespoon of vegetable shortening per 1 package of candy melts to thin out the chocolate a little bit for easier dipping.
  2. Take a lollipop stick and dip the tip in some melted chocolate.  Holding the top and bottom of the cookie, gently push the end of the lollipop stick with the chocolate on it into the middle of the Oreo.  There may be some cookies that break during this process.  I tried pushing the lollipop sticks into the Oreos without putting the chocolate on the end first and the stick did not stay in the cookie as well.   
  3.  Allow the sticks to dry.  By the time you are finished with the last cookie, the first cookies should be about ready to dip.
  4. Dip cookies in Candy Melts, you may have to remelt your Candy Melts a little bit if you waited awhile for the sticks to dry.  Place on wax paper (or tin foil in my case because I ran out of wax paper) and allow to dry.  During this process, I also broke a few cookies.  
  5. Make royal icing flowers.  Here is a tutorial from Wilton on how to make royal icing daisies or you can buy premade royal icing flowers from the store.  Allow your flowers and your dipped Oreos to dry for at least 8 hours or overnight.
  6. The next day, use a little royal icing to "glue" the flowers to the Oreos.  Give them an hour or so to dry and you have pretty flower snacks on a stick.
I used a wide short glass to dip my Oreos in the chocolate

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