Saturday, May 30

"Happy Birthday to Us!" Cupcakes

Sunday is my 19th birthday (yay me!), and Thursday is my friend Arielle's 19th birthday (yay her!). This weekend, we're going to NYC, to see Avenue Q and In the Heights. In celebration of our turning-19-ness, I made chocolate cupcakes, with milk chocolate Swiss buttercream.

Oh. My. God.

This buttercream is heaven! So much work, true, but totally worth it. I'm drooling just thinking about it. (I honestly ate like 4 heaping spoonfuls of it while decorating the cupcakes, haha)
Swiss buttercream is by far my favorite frosting, not because of its ease (...'cause it's not all), but because it's so light and creamy, you forget you used nearly a pound of butter to make it.
Yep. A pound. Almost.
(Just pretend I didn't say that and it'll be okay :) )

Chocolate Cupcakes:(makes...2 dozen-ish)
2 Cups of sugar
1 3/4 Cups of flour
3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder. (I used Hershey's, but I usually use Ghirardelli's)
2 tsps of baking soda
1 tsp of baking powder
1 tsp of salt
2 eggs
1 cup of sour cream
1 cup of boiling water
1/2 cup of vegetable/canola oil
1 tsp of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line your cupcake tins. Stir the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together. Add everything else. Mix. (OH MY GOD THE EASIEST CAKE EVER. The difficulty of the frosting makes up for it :P ) Pour into the tins, filling each mold about 3/4 of the way up. (I did my first batch 1/2 of the way up, just to be safe, and they were a little smaller than I'd like, so 3/4 is good). Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle (of one of the inner cupcakes) comes out mostly clean (a few crumbs are good!).

And now for the true test of endurance!

Swiss Buttercream:
4 oz egg whites (...I just used 4 egg whites. I'm too lazy for a scale and all of that)
1 Cup of sugar
2 tbsp of corn syrup
3 sticks of unsalted butter, softened. (3/4 of a pound. My original recipe said 2.5 sticks but I forgot and it was still good with 3, hehe.)

Whisk egg whites, corn syrup, and sugar in a bowl over a pot of simmering water. (I use my stand-mixer bowl, to make it easier). Keep whisking. Keep whisking. Just keep going. Keeeeeep whisking until a thermometer inserted into the mixture reads 140 degrees. (Though honestly, as long as the sugar's melted, you're good. You can check that by rubbing a bit between your fingers and checking for a grain). Once it's reached that temperature, whisk it (I hope you have a standing mixer) until it's about body temperature. (So it should feel BARELY warmer than your finger). Once it's reached that stage, change to a regular beater/ paddle attachment and add in your butter, a tablespoon at a time. Once everything's come together, you can add in any kind of flavoring you like, but try to keep excess water to a minimum. I added in a few tablespoons of melted chocolate. Yummmm.

Yesterday, I tried a different recipe for chocolate cupcakes, and failed miserably. Wanna see? Of course you do.



Thursday, May 28

Way overdue Christmas cookies!

Wow. I am "epic fail", as the kids say. In my effort to hide the secret of these cookies (surprise gifts), I entirely forgot to post, or even write about them. Luckily, they're a previously posted recipe, so I'll just link to those, but they were so cute (and so much work!) that I have to post them.

While looking for better pictures of my ginger cookies to update here and to try and post on foodgawker, I discovered the pictures of the xmas cookies! So, here I am. :P

Cookie Recipe

Royal Icing Recipe

So. Many. Cookies. Oh. My. God.

Pretty star :P

Richard's Superman cookie :D


More stars!

Zi's Ninja

The boys' initials, before.

The boys' intials, after. In bad lighting. :) Yes, the PG is decorated like Joker.


Tuesday, May 26

Cheesecake Cookies

Oh yes, you read correctly. It's an adapted recipe for Kifli, this Hungarian cream cheese cookie.

Amusingly enough, a friend and I attempted this exact endeavor over a year ago, and failed. Why, you may ask? Simple. My halfwit self forgot to add the sugar, and they just didn't taste very good without it :/
Anyway, I decided to try again, with a few minor adjustments. (Like using Jam instead of Strawberry Topping) and trying a different method of making the graham crackers stick to the dough. I think it turned out rather well :)

Cheesecake Cookies:
8 oz. Cream Cheese
1 Cup of Butter, plus another half a stick to melt.
3 Egg Yolks
1 tsp. Vanilla
1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
2.5 Cups of Flour
1 Cup of Sugar
1.5 Cups of Crushed Graham Crackers
Jar of Strawberry Jam (you won't even come close to using the whole thing, no worries :D )

Per usual, cream together the Butter, Cream Cheese, and Sugar. Add the Yolks and Vanilla. Once that's all together, add in the Flour and Baking Powder. Chill. (very simple dough!)
While that's going on, go ahead and heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and smash up the Graham Crackers into a relatively fine powder, and put it on a plate. Before you go to roll out the dough, melt the butter and pour it onto a plate (one that's got a raised edge, or you could use a bowl, but the plate was easier for me). Roll out the dough and out circles using a very small cutter (1 inch? 1.5 inches?). dip the bottom in the melted butter, then press the buttered side into the graham crackers. once the whole pan is full of cookies, add a tablespoon or two of jam to the top of each cookie. (the thicker the cookie, the more jam you should add). Bake for 10 minutes, or until you can see the edges brown slightly.
BE VERY CAREFUL taking these off of the sheet. The hot jam can and will burn you, so watch out!

The cookies themselves should be soft, with a nice crunch from the butter/cracker crust. Enjoy!

And for fun, here are the pictures from our first attempt!