Thursday, August 23, 2012

48 Cupcakes & My Summer

Let me recap this summer.

I started by taking two clases at BU: American Pop Culture and History of Rock'n'Roll. Don't ask me to choose between the two because I'll smack you! Really though, one was based on Rock'n'Roll which meant that each lesson was paired with great music; the other was a brief history of comedy in American culture so every other class included a movie--some more funny than the others, but all interesting.

Following my month in Boston, I shortly visited Mexico and then hopped on a plane and flew to Europe. Not long after, I was partying in the land of red and white mayhem, Pamplona. I visited the city for three nights during San Fermin, which is a week-long festival that entails drinking, socializing and watching bull runs/fights. It was a bit too much for me, but the experience was unique.

Around the 9th of July I embarked on a cruise around the Mediterranean. The itinerary included parts of Italy, Greece, Turkey and Croatia. It was a m a z i n g. Beautiful sights and delicious food to say the least.

Towards the end of July I came back to Mexico. Almost everything stayed the same, but a very important person, my grandmother, left my life. Even though I wasn't ready to say goodbye, the image of her clapping at the mariachis on her 88th birthday (four days before she passed away) brought joy in time of grief.

Anyways, now it's been almost a month since I arrived back in Mexico and I can't say that I'm ready to leave but I also can't say that I want to stay longer. I've had some fun times at home, but I think I function better on a set schedule. I feel like I've had a lot of free time, but at the same time my stress level is off the charts.

But enough of me, let's talk food. I made 48 cupcakes for my sister's goodbye party two weeks ago. They were not the easiest to make--especially the frosting--but in the long run they're worth it. I received great feedback, so I'll be making these again.

Vanilla Cupcakes (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Makes 24 cupcakes
Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 50 minutes + frosting
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Frosting (I used this one)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Line two 12-cupcake pans with liners and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. 
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing each until incorporated; scrape down sides of bowl, and add vanilla.
  3. Add flour mixture and milk alternately, beginning and ending with flour. Scrape down sides and bottom of bowl to ensure batter is well mixed.
  4. Divide batter evenly among liners, fill each about three-quarters. Bake until tops spring back when touched and toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan, and cool completely before frosting.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Chocolate Cookie Dough Cupcakes

So here I am laying on my bed trying to enjoy every last minute of this do-nothing (or almost nothing) Sunday. The only reason I'm allowing this state of vegetativeness is the fact that I'm five weeks into my half marathon training and I ran a well-paced 10k today. I've done 10ks before, but this one feels better since it showed me I can stick to a training--or at least I've been able to do so for 35 days.

Anyways, cooking/baking has been at a minimal this summer, but I still have a ton of recipes lined up to try out. So once I'm back at college I plan to return to a three-to-four times-a-week blogging routine. But for the mean time, here is the recipe to a dozen delicious cupcakes that pack a ton of flavor into one small cake.

Like I've mentioned before, I'm not the cupcake fan myself, but I tried these because they looked so cute and they made my whole house smell like chocolate. Turns out they're quite good; chocolatey and cookie-doughy to the max. Oh and the frosting is lick-your-fingers delicious! So so good.

Chocolate Cookie Dough Cupcakes (adapted from Recipe Girl)
Makes 12 cupcakes.
Active time: 40 minutes. Total time: 1 1/2 hours + cooling

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chopped chocolate or mini chocolate chips
  1. Line a small cookie sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter and sugars until smooth. Add milk and vanilla and beat until just combined. 
  2. Stir in dry ingredients and beat until incorporated. Fold in chocolate and stir. Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes or until firm enough to handle.
  3. Scoop dough into 2-tablespoon balls and place on prepared cookie sheet; freeze for 30 minutes.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup hot water
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a cupcake pan with 12 liners. In the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add water, oil, egg and vanilla and beat on medium speed until combined. 
  2. Transfer batter to a small pitcher and divide between the 12 cupcakes liners. 
  3. Drop a frozen cookie dough ball into each cupcake and push slightly (if you want the top to bake, leave as is) so that the batter begins to cover the dough.
  4. Bake cupcakes for about 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted right beside the cookie dough comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting.

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: garnish such as mini chocolate chips, chocolate pearls or a mini chocolate chip cookie.
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter and sugars until smooth and creamy. Add flour, milk and vanilla extract and beat until just combined. 
  2. Frost cupcakes and garnish with desired topping.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Color Craze

I have a feeling this post is going to be one of my all-time favorites. Maybe it's the bright colors in the cake or the sweetness of the frosting; maybe it's the fact that I finally baked a tall layer cake; or maybe it's that I got compliments from a lot of friends.

I don't know the exact reason, but yes, this is post will be in my top 10--that is whenever I start that page.

Anyways, I baked a five-layer color cake for my sisters goodbye party. She is off to college in NYC next week, so I thought it adequate to make her a treat. At the same time I got to try out a recipe that's been on my mind for months.

Before I get to the details, let me tell you this is a complicated cake. It takes quite a while (including prepping, baking, cooling, building and icing), but the end result is worth it. Not only did I get great satisfaction in realizing that I can bake such cake, I also loved the compliments--in this post there is no space for modesty, whoever bakes this cake deserves the recognition. Many friends and tasters approved of both the appearance and taste. And with each comment my excitement grew; the hard work and long hours in the kitchen paid off.

Colorful Layer Cake (adapted from Martha Stewart)
Active time: 3 hours. Total time: 6 hours/overnight
Makes one 8-inch cake

  • 3 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature + more for pans
  • 6 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour + more for pans
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 10 large egg whites
  • Gel food coloring
  • Creamy Vanilla Frosting (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter five 8-inch round cake pans (I used 3 and baked in two batches). Line pans with parchment paper and butter again; dust with flour and tap out excess. 
  2. Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. In a separate bowl combine milk and vanilla.
  3. In a large bowl of an electric mixer beat butter with one medium speed until very smooth, about 5 minutes. With machine running, gradually add the sugar and beat until pale and fluffy, 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with milk mixture (beginning and ending with dry ingredients). Beat until just combined; don't overmix.
  4. In a separate bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed until stiff, but not dry, peaks form, about 4 minutes. Gently fold egg whites into batter in 3 additions.
  5. Divide batter among 5 bowls and tint each with food coloring; mix well until desired color is achieved. Spread each colored batter into prepared pans and bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool cakes completely in pans and on wire racks.
  6. Invert cakes onto pans and let cool for about 1 hour, or overnight. Trim the top of each cake to even the surface. Spread about 1 cup buttercream onto the top of 1 cake; top with another cake. Repeat the process, spreading buttercream between each layer. Frost cake with a thin layer of buttercream. Refrigerate for 10 minutes and frost with remaining frosting.
*Cakes can be made ahead and stored unfrosted for up to 2 days at room temperature.

Creamy Vanilla Frosting (adapted from Epicurious)
  • 2 cups milk
  • 6 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 4 sticks butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  1. In medium saucepan, whisk flour into milk until smooth. Place over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture becomes thick and begins to bubble, 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and cover with waxed paper; cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter on medium high speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla and beat well. 
  3. Continue to beat on medium high speed as you add the cooled milk mixture. Beat for 5 more minutes until very smooth and noticeably whiter in color. Cover and refrigerate for 15 minutes exactly. Use immediately.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Blinis for Four; Caviar for Three

Here is something that might surprise you. I don't like caviar.

Sure, it is gourmet and probably considered to be the creme de la creme by many foodies. But honestly, it doesn't rock my boat one bit. In a way I'm fortunate enough because my wallet can remain healthier--although I would like it to be chubby at some point--but at the same time I don't get to share the crazed passion that both my parents and my sister have when it comes to caviar.

Anyways, this post is dedicated to my family because they love caviar. And I love them--haha how corny was that.

As a favor to them--and also an inspiration to blog again--I decided to make blinis today. And I killed two birds with one stone. I got amazing photos and found a great recipe on my blog--and yes, these blinis are definitely worth it, even if you don't like caviar. At the same time, my family enjoyed a tin of caviar almost as if they were in a Russian restaurant--key word, almost.

Whole Wheat Blinis (adapted from Epicurious)
Makes about 12 blinis
Active time: 30 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes.

  • 2 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add milk and egg yolk and whisk until smooth.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat egg white until soft peaks begin to form, about 5 minutes. Fold into batter along with 2 tablespoons butter. 
  3. Brush a nonstick skillet with some of the remaining butter and heat over a medium flame until hot. Working in batches, drop 1 tablespoon of batter into pan (smoothing it out if you want thinner blinis); cook until bubbles appear on surface and pancakes are golden, about 30-45 seconds. Flip and cook for another 45 seconds. 
  4. Transfer cooked blinis to a plate and cover with a cloth or foil to keep warm. Carefully brush skillet with more butter and repeat with remaining batter.