Friday, February 16, 2007

Baking for Days.

I began baking for Valentines Day on Monday afternoon, I started with Ina's chocolate/peanut butter cupcakes (not pictured above). Review: I liked the cake part, you can't really go wrong when the cake has both buttermilk and sour cream, it was extremely moist and flavorful. However, the cake itself has very little sugar, and plenty of cocoa powder, it's slightly bitter. Therefore, I think the frosting should compensate. I do enjoy cupcakes that aren't super sweet but I think another part of the cake needs to make up for it with something sweeter, and the peanut butter frosting isn't very sweet either. I would probably do a cream cheese/peanut butter/cream mixture with powdered sugar to up the flavor and balance of this cupcake. But overall, it was good. I will definately make the cake again, it's the best chocolate cupcake recipe I've used in the last year. I tend to be critical of anything I bake, so in my opinion there's usually room for improvement. Recipe follows:


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, shaken, at room temperature
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 tablespoons brewed coffee
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup good cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing, recipe follows
Chopped salted peanuts, to decorate, optional

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and 2 sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes.
3. Lower the speed to medium, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla and mix well.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee.
5. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.
6. On low speed, add the buttermilk mixture and the flour mixture alternately in thirds to the mixer bowl, beginning with the buttermilk mixture and ending with the flour mixture. Mix only until blended. Fold the batter with a rubber spatula to be sure it's completely blended.
7. Divide the batter among the cupcake pans (1 rounded standard ice cream scoop per cup is the right amount).
8. Bake in the middle of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, remove from the pans, and allow to cool completely before frosting.
9. Frost each cupcake with Peanut Butter Icing and sprinkle with chopped peanuts, if desired.

Kathleen's Peanut Butter Icing:

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream


1. Place the confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work.
2. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.

Sorry, I didn't take any pictures. I did not decorate them with peanuts, since it was Valentines I piped frosting onto the top, smoothed it out, mad a heart stencil and stenciled on a mix of powdered sugar and cocoa powder. They were very cute. Perfect for V-day.

Next up, Cheesecake Cookies! These were amazing, there's nothing I could critisize although I did alter the original recipe a bit. I found this recipe on the food blog search engine, it was over at The Baking Sheet. These cookies are extremely easy, and extremely delish. I gave my mother a basket full of cupcakes, and cookies, and in one night she devoured all the cookies, which is fairly unlike her to do (okay, so she had a little help from her boyfriend).


Cheesecake Cookies

½ cup cream cheese, soft
½ cup butter, soft
1 cup sugar
1 egg
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp baking powder
1 cup ap flour


1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat together butter and cream cheese.
3. Gradually beat in sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and salt.
4. Whisk together baking powder and flour in a small bowl and, mixing by hand or at low speed, add to cream cheese mixture.
5. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.
6. Bake at 350 for 12-14 minutes, until the bottom edge just barely turns brown.
7. The dough is too soft to cut shapes out of before baking, so I cut them when they came out of the oven with different cookie cutters, in this case lips and hearts.
8. Cool for a few hours. After cooling make a white chocolate ganache and brush the tops of each cookie, lay out on parchment/wax paper. Let the ganache harden (a few hours, white chocolate takes a while to set). Put into a container and refrigerate overnight/or for a few hours.
9. Decorate with red and pink cream cheese frosting.
10. Makes about 3 dozen. (This recipe only made about 2 dozen for me, but I made them quite a bit larger).

Here are a few pictures of the Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting and Candied Tulip Petals.