Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Well, I loved how the cupcakes turned out! I frosted some standard-size cupcakes, placed some unwrapped, mini-cupcakes upside-down on top of them, and then used some more frosting to attach donut holes to the very top. I let them firm up in the fridge for a bit and then iced lightly over the whole thing. Then I used a pastry bag with a #16 star tip to cover the cakes evenly. The stripes and triangles were cut from strawberry Fruit by the Foot. In the book, the author melts canned frosting and dips the cupcakes, which gives a nice, smooth finish. I like to make my own frosting and wasn't sure how it would melt, so I went with piping.
The ball cake turned out to be slightly difficult. Next time, I will fill the pans a bit more full of batter and then trim the cake edges down to make a more rounded, as opposed to oblong, shape. Also, I will ice one side, let it firm up, then flip it onto the serving board and ice the other side. Sugarbear was more than pleased, so I won't beat myself up about it.
Friday, January 22, 2010
Tuesday was Sugarbear's 7th birthday. Since it fell on a weekday, we just had a small family celebration that night. He got to choose where we went for dinner (In-N-Out Burger) and I whipped up some simple cupcakes for dessert. The recipe I used is for "Yellow Cupcakes with Simple Chocolate Frosting" from Baking Illustrated. The cupcakes were tender and buttery. The frosting was simply a whipped ganache- intensely chocolatey. Make sure to use a chocolate that you enjoy eating, because its flavor will dominate.
Yellow Cupcakes with Simple Chocolate Frosting
1. For the frosting, bring 1 cup heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Put 8 ounces chopped semi-sweet chocolate into a medium bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 5 minutes. Whisk the mixture until smooth, then cover and refrigerate until cool and slightly firm, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Don't let it chill too much longer than 1 hour or it may separate.
2. Once the chocolate mixture is chilled, whip it with an electric mixer on medium speed until it's fluffy and mousse-like and forms medium-stiff peaks, about 2 minutes. Set aside.
3. For the cupcakes, heat the oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin tin with paper wrappers. Whisk
1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt in the bowl of a standing mixer. Add 1 stick (1/2 cup) softened, unsalted butter, 1/2 cup sour cream, 1 large egg, 2 large egg yolks and 1 1/2 teapoons vanilla to the dry ingredients and beat until smooth and satiny, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula and stir by hand until smooth and no flour pockets remain.
4. Use a 1/4 cup (2 ounces) scoop to divide the batter into 12 tins. Bake until the cupcake tops are pale gold and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 20-24 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on a wire rack until they are room temperature, about 45 minutes.
5. Spread 2-3 generous tablespoons of frosting onto each cupcake and serve.
Thursday, January 7, 2010
One of my favorite magazines to pour over for yummy recipes is Cook's Country. I recently received the February/March 2010 issue in my mailbox. One of the first recipes to catch my eye was one for Chicken Pomodoro (recipe card section). It has all the flavors that my family loves: tomatoes, fresh basil, garlic. I decided to try it out.
All I can say is, "Wow"! Even though the sauce has some cream in it, it was nice and light and fresh tasting. Hubby deemed it a keeper after the first bite. This is definitely one I will make for friends and family quite often.
Pat 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts dry with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until golden on each side. Transfer to a plate. (I lightly pounded my chicken breasts first. I find that it keeps them more tender.)
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the same skillet and cook 1 finely chopped onion until softened. Add 4 minced garlic cloves, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, 1/3 cup heavy cream and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then add cooked chicken and its juices back into the skillet. Simmer, covered, until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
Transfer chicken to a platter and tent with foil. Simmer the sauce, uncovered, for about 5 minutes until slightly thickened. Remove from heat and add 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil and salt and pepper to taste. Serve over cooked pasta (rigatoni is nice).