Graham Crackers

Graham Crackers
These were chewy and had a great taste.  The broke into pieces easily and didn’t crumble.  I had some trouble rolling these out and needed a significant amount of flour to prevent them from sticking.  I also could not form them into a nice rectangle, but I think “rustic’ is perfectly appropriate also, especially since I broke them up for use in the S’mores Brownies.  It was also exceeding difficult to transfer to the baking sheet as a large cookie.  When I make this again, I will divide the dough into smaller portions and roll it out in smaller pieces, making it easier to transfer and not worry about making it two big pieces.

Graham Crackers

adapted from Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake by Elizabeth Falkner

8 ounces (1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbl) whole wheat flour (not white whole wheat)
4 ounces ( 3/4 cup plus 1 tbl) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cold water
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
4 1/1 ounces by weight (1/4 cup plus 2 tbl) honey
2 tablespoons (1 1/2 ounces by weight) unsulfured dark molasses
1 large egg

In a medium bowl, stir together the whole wheat and all-purpose flours and set aside.  In a small bowl, stir together the baking soda and water until the soda dissolves.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream together the butter and sugar on medium speed for 1 to 20 minutes, or until thoroughly combined and slightly paler.  Add the honey and molasses and continue to mix for 30 seconds to 1 minute.   Add the egg and mix for 15 to 20 seconds or until incorporated.  Add the baking soda mixture and mix for about 30 seconds, until combined.  Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 to 30 seconds.  Then add the remaining flour mixture and mix for 15 to 30 seconds or until combined.
Divide the dough in half (about 13 ounces for each half) or into smaller pieces and place each on a sheet of plastic wrap.  Shape each piece into a block or flatten into a disk.  Refrigerate the dough for at least 4 hours or preferably overnight.  You can also freeze half or all of the dough for up to 1 month.
Position racks in the upper and lower third of the oven and pre-heat the oven to 325 F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Check to see that your dough is firm enough to work with.  It should be a little sticky but still hold together.  Lightly dust the work surface with flour.  Unwrap half of the dough and knead it a few times on the floured surface.  Dust a rolling pin with flour and then roll out the dough into a rectangle about 12 x 9 inches and 1/4 inch thick or into a rustic shape about 1/4 inch thick, adding more flour to the work surface as needed to prevent the dough from sticking.
Transfer the dough to one of the prepared.  Bake the dough as a single piece and then break it into randomly sized shards after it has cooled.  You can also cut the dough into a dozen 3 inch squares or any other shapes.  Repeat with the second half of the dough.
Bake the cookies for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the color of graham crackers.  The cookies will puff during baking but will flatten as they cool.  Let the grahams cool completely on the pans on cooling racks before removing them.  They keep for 1 week in an airtight container at room temperature, or they can be frozen for up to 1 month.

Brownie Recipe or the first recipe I learned to make by myself

Brownies
This is the brownie recipe that my family made when I was growing up and was the first recipe I attempted on my own. One of my early attempts while my parents were out of the house did not go well because partway through I realized I did not have enough flour to finish the recipe. It was a delicious chocolate/sugar batter, though.

I have no idea where the recipe originally came from but it is similar to many other ones.  This makes a cake-y brownie with a slightly crisp top and edges. I have never even made it with nuts, my sister is allergic to nuts and this recipe would seem wrong if it had nuts in it. The recipe card was recopied many times and the optional nuts were always listed, but never used in my family.

Brownies

1 1/3 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2/3 cups butter
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup nuts (optional)

Mix flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. Melt butter and chocolate over flame in pan, or in the microwave, let cool for a few minutes. Beat eggs, add sugar and vanilla.  Add chocolate / butter mixture to the eggs and sugar. Mix in flour. Add nuts (if desired). Pour into greased 9″ x 13″ pan (or a pan with a greased aluminum foil sling). Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.   When cool, cut and dust with powdered sugar.

Cherry Almond Brownies

Cherry Almond Brownies
These don’t look like much, but they taste delicious.  Brownies are a dessert that typically have a minimal visual impact, but can have strong taste impact.  I doubled the recipe and baked it in a 9 x 13 pan.  The recipe as written is still for the 8 inch square pan, though.  I took these to two place – some co-workers and a potluck – and they received raves at both.  These are fudgy brownies with sweet bursts of cherry and almond.

I don’t usually have King Arthur Flour on-hand, but their blog is a great source of inspiration.  I added some almond extract to up the almond flavor and also specifically used the Amaretto, although other liqueurs could be used.  I chopped the cherries by hand and these are larger pieces than what a food processor would chop.

Cherry Almond Brownies

adapted from from the King Arthur Flour recipe

1/2 cup [3 ounces] dried sweet cherries, chopped
1 tablespoon Amaretto liqueur
1 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup [3 ounces] chopped unsweetened baking chocolate
1/2 cup [4 ounces] butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup [2 ounces] diced almonds
1/2 cup [2 ounces] chopped candied red cherries
1/2 cup [3 ounces] Semisweet Chocolate Chips

1) Place dried chopped cherries in a microwave-safe container, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon liqueur, cover, and microwave for 45 seconds. Set aside to soften and cool.

2) Melt together the chocolate and butter over low heat, or in the microwave. Stir in the sugar and salt. Whisk well. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.

3) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ square pan or 9″ round pan.

4) Whisk the eggs, one at a time, into the chocolate mixture. Add the almond extract.  Stir in the flour and baking powder, then the soaked cherries, almonds, candied cherries, and chocolate chunks.

5) Spread batter into the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 25 to 30 minutes, until set. Remove from the oven, and cool before cutting.

Congo Bars or Chocolate Chip Cookies in Bar Form

Congo Bars
I have been making these for several years as one of my go-to recipes when I need to make something in advance that I want to last for a few days and can take a beating traveling somewhere.

This calls for a 10 x 15 pan and I don’t quite have one that size, since it is an odd shape.  I do have a roasting pan that is 11 x 15, so I used that.  It’s a little larger in size, so my bars are about 9% shorter than the recipe suggests.  A 9 x 13 pan would have bars about 22% taller.  I prefer thinner bars to thicker ones, personally.

I used the Tcho Roasted Cacao “Citrus” Nibs in the recipe.  I omitted the customary nuts in favor of nibs because of the extra chocolate flavor it adds, in addition to the texture.

This time, these really needed extra time to mellow out before they were tasty.  After 1 day, they were okay, they got better by day 2 and 3, but they took until day 4 or 5 to really come into their own and be crave-able.  I’m not sure what took so long this time.

Congo Bars

Adapted from The Great Book of Chocolate by David Lebovitz who notes this recipe came from Flo Braker

11 Tbl (about 1 1/3 sticks) [150 grams] unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 pound [450 grams] light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 3/4 cups [385 grams] all-purpose flour
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups [280 grams] semisweet chocolate chips
110 grams roasted cacao nibs

1.  Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven and preheat to 325 F
2. Butter a 10 x 15 x 1 inch (25 x 38 x 2.5 cm) baking pan.
3. In a large bowl, mix the butter, brown sugar and eggs, making sure to break up any lumps of brown sugar
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
5. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet mixture, then stir in the chips and nibs.
6. Spread the batter into the pan as evenly as possible. (It will be sticky)
7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until deep golden brown. Remove from the oven. Let cool a few minutes, and then cut into 24 bars while still warm.

Although you will find it hard to resist eating all of these right away, Flo insists that the bars actually improve after a few days when stored at room temperature in an airtight container.

Chocolate Ginger Pot de Creme


For a dinner party with friends, I wanted to make an elegant, but simple dessert to pair with cookies.   The pot de crème recipe I chose is from the Scharffen Berger book, Essence of Chocolate.  I used a mixture of chocolates that were not Scharffen Berger, there was some Trader Joe’s and a bit of Ghirardelli.   The recipe is specific with the percentages of chocolates it requires but I think any combination will work, it just depends on the chocolatelyness of the finished product.

One trick I recently learned is to peel the ginger with the edge of a teaspoon, this work much better than a peeler.

These were delicious.  The ginger flavor added something extra and gave them nice depth.  I skipped the whipped cream and did a simple decoration of red, white, and green holiday sprinkles.  I couldn’t really pop all the bubbles on top of them, so some have a “foamy” top while others have a smooth, glass-like finish depending on whether they were poured early with the foam part of the custard or later.  This had no impact on taste.  The recipe suggests a propane torch for breaking the bubbles, but since I don’t have one, I had to skip this step.

Chocolate Ginger Pots de Creme

adapted from Essence of Chocolate by John Scharffenberger and Robert Steinberg

Ingredients

1/3 cup thinly sliced peeled fresh ginger (about a 3-inch piece)
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 1/2 cups whole milk
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/2 ounces 70% bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 1/2 ounces 62% semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 large egg yolks

Instructions

Place the ginger in a small saucepan, cover with 1 inch of water, and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 2 minutes. Drain.

In a large saucepan, bring the cream, milk, ginger, and sugar to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. (Keep a close watch on the pan; the cream can bubble up and over very quickly. Really.) Remove from the heat, cover, and let stand for 2 hours to infuse the cream with the flavor of the ginger.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 F. Arrange eight 5 to 6 ounce ramekins in a large baking pan or roasting pan, making sure the ramekins don’t touch each other or the edges of the plan.

Place both chocolates in a medium heatproof bowl and set over a pot of a gently simmering water. Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove from the heat. Or place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in 30-second increment until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Set a fine-mesh strainer over the top of the chocolate bowl. Reheat the milk and cream mixture over medium-high heat until it bubbles around the edges. Strain one-quarter of the hot milk and cream mixture onto the chocolate. Remove the strainer and whisk to combine. Return the strainer to the bowl, and add the the remaining milk and cream mixture. Whisk to combine. Discard the ginger.

In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Whisking constantly, slowly add the chocolate mixture until well combined. Set a strainer over a large measuring cup or a bowl with a spout and pour the mixture through the strainer to remove any curdled egg bits.

Divide the custard among the ramekins, and wipe the rims clean. Break up any bubbles that have settled on the surface with a skewer or with a quick pass of a propane torch, otherwise the surfaces may not be smooth.

Pour enough very hot water into the pan to come 1 inch up the sides of the ramekins. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the edges of the custards are firm but the very centers are not completely set. Carefully remove from the oven, and let the ramekins remain in the water bath for 10 minutes.

Remove the ramekins and cool for 30 minutes, then cover and refrigerate for at least several hours or up to 3 days. Serve cold or at room temperature. If desired, top each with a dollop of whipped cream.

Peppermint Chocolate Macarons

Peppermint Chocolate Macarons
Peppermint is a flavor I associate with the holiday season, primarily because of candy canes.  And of course I always want chocolate.  I typically consume these two flavors in a Peppermint Patty or Junior Mint or in the cookie form of Thin Mints.  But when I decided make Macarons (Macaroons) this year, I thought peppermint and chocolate, perfect for the season.

I’ve made other macaron versions previously, including Dulce de Leche Macarons, Chocolate Macarons, and some anise ones I didn’t blog about.  These were all good, but I never felt they were up to some of my local favorites, such as the ones purchase at Miette or Patisserie Philippe.  Though any of my previous attempts were loads better than the horrible ones I found at the Whole Foods in Noe Valley (they were disgusting, stale things that crumbled at first bite and had a weird tasting filling).

I went looking for a Peppermint Macaron recipe, hoping to find a flavored shell.  I found one from Dessert First that had peppermint in the chocolate ganache filling and Tartelette had a candy cane macaron with crushed candy cane pieces on the edges of the filling.  There were a few other sites with pictures but overall few recipes with these flavors.  I also felt strongly that I wanted the peppermint flavoring in the shell, not in the filling.  I’m a little nervous with peppermint because it can be a strong flavor and overwhelm other flavors and I knew I had to keep it on the mild side.

I recently purchased a short, but extremely cute book by Hisako Ogita that was recently translated from Japanese. The pictures looked helpful and there were several unusual flavor combinations that I will try at a future time.  These macarons were the best ones that I have ever made. They had feet!  The texture was chewy but the shell was a little crispy.  I <heart> these macarons that I made.

This recipe had a few differences from my previous attempts.

1.  I used the metric weights for all measurements.  I think this helped me be more accurate
2. The “macaronnage” where after the almond flour is added the mixture is mixed several times.  This really changed the texture and made the batter a bit stiffer
3. I used a smaller tip (804 vs. the previous 808 or 809).  This helped me pipe smaller circles, which considerably added to the cuteness.

These were fabulous.  The peppermint was just the right amount and the chocolate ganache complemented the peppermint.  I highly recommend the  book for the pictures and additional instructions.

Peppermint Macaron Shells

adapted from I Love Macarons or I ♥ Macarons as the cover shows
(with the extensive instructions shortened for space – the book describes this best)

2/3 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) ground almonds
1 1/2 cups (5.25 ounces or 150 grams) powdered sugar
3 large egg whites, at room temperature
5 tbl (65 grams) granulated sugar
1/8 tsp peppermint extract

1. In a food processor, grind the almonds and the powdered sugar together to a fine powder.

2. In a stainless-steel mixing bowl, beat eggs whites on high speed until they are foamy. Gradually add the granulated sugar to the egg whites.

3. Add the peppermint to the egg whites

4. When the meringue is stiff, firm and has a glossy texture, it is done.

5. Add the flour/powdered sugar mixture. Stir it with a spatula while scooping it up from the bottom of the bowl.

6. Macaronnage. When you run out of flour, press and spread out the batter against the bowl’s sides. Scoop the batter from the bottom and turn it updside down. Repeat this process about 15 times.

7. Attach a 0.4 inch (1.01 cm) or 804 tip to the pastry bag. Pour the batter into the pastry bag.

8. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Squeeze out the batter onto the center of the circles.  Make small circles since the batter tends to spread out after being squeezed.

9. Rap the baking sheet firmly against the counter or other flat surface.

10. Dry the batter at room temperature uncovered for 15 minutes.  A slight crust should form on top.

11. Stack the baking sheet on top of another baking sheet

12. Bake at 375 F for 15 to 18 minutes and slightly crisp on top.

13. Allow to cool on the tray and then remove.

Chocolate Ganache

adapted from I Love Macarons or I ♥ Macarons as the cover shows

3/5 cup / 3.4 oz / 100 milliliters heavy cream
3.5 oz / 100 grams chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate

1. Put the whipping cream in a pot and bring it to a boil

2. Put the chocolate in a bowl and add the cream

3. Mix it with a whisk until it becomes glossy

4. Cool to room temperature. Or put the bowl in a larger bowl with ice water and whisk rapidly to have it cool more quickly.

Peppermint Chocolate Macaron Assembly

Since I never make the shells the exact same size, I first pair up the shells to get matched sets.  With an offset spatula apply some ganache to one shell and spread evenly.  Add the matching shell.

These are best when they are fresh.

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes with Chocolate Malted Frosting

Chocolate Malt Cupcake
For my birthday this year I wanted to try something different and chocolate malt jumped out as a flavor I wanted.   I had made the Chocolate Malted Whopper Drops and really wanted to capture the chocolate malt flavor and texture in a cupcake.  I had recently purchased a cupcake tower and this was a perfect opportunity to try it out as a display showpiece.  The tower was everything I hoped for and I received a lot of compliments on it.   This is good because it will be making many repeat appearances!

Chocolate Malt Cupcake Tower
The recipe is an oil based one with cocoa powder.  I used a mixture of dutch-processed and regular baking cocoa, because that is what I had in the pantry.   I think that there is no problem using regular baking cocoa in many recipes as long as the batter is acidic enough for the baking soda to work.   These were good, but did not have the concentrated malt flavor that I was looking for.  The texture of the frosting was initially a little loose, probably because I didn’t quite let the melted chocolate cool enough before I added it to the buttercream.    The cupcakes were moist, but I just generally prefer the butter based recipes.  I will try another version of Chocolate Malted Cupcakes again.  I think I will put chopped Whoppers in the batter next time, though.

Chocolate Malted Cupcakes

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes, makes about 28 cupcakes

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened (dutch-process) cocoa powder
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 1/4 cups malted milk powder
1 cup vegetable oil
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line standard muffin tins with paper liners. Whisk together flour, cocoa, both sugars, baking soda, and salt. In another bowl, whisk together milk and malted milk powder until powder is dissolved.
2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat flour mixture, milk mixture, and oil until combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add sour cream and vanilla, and beat until combined.
3. Divide batter evenly among lined cups, filling each halfway. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cupcakes can be stored up to 3 days at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.

Chocolate Malt Buttercream

adapted from Cupcakes by Shelly Kaldunski

3 large egg whites, at room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces, at room temperature
4 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
1/4 malted milk powder
1/4 cup milk

Melt the chocolate and allow it to cool slightly. Whisk the malted milk powder into the milk until dissolved. In a large, clean heatproof bowl, combine the egg whites and sugar.  Set the bowl over (but not touching) simmering water in a saucepan and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the mixture is very warm to the touch (about 160 F on an instant-read thermometer), about 2 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the saucepan.  Using an electric mixer on high speed, beat the egg white mixture until it is fluffy, cooled to room temperature , and holds stiff peaks (the mixture should not look dry), about 6 minutes.

With the mixer on medium-low speed, add the salt and the butter, a few pieces at a time, beating well after each addition.  If the frosting appears to separate or is very liquid after all the butter is added, continue to beat on high speed until it is smooth and creamy, 3-5 minutes more.  Add the (cooled) chocolate and the malt/milk and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Use right away.

Frost the cupcakes and top with a single whopper.

Oatmeal Scotchies, aka Oatmeal Cookies with Butterscotch Chips

Oatmeal Scotchies
I grew up eating Oatmeal Scotchies with some regularity.  After Chocolate Chip Cookies (Nestle Toll house, of course) and a specific trio of Christmas cookies, these were the next most common homemade cookies my parents would make.   I took them to a party recently and was surprised may people had not heard of them.  And they are healthy, right, with all the oatmeal?

I use 1/2 teaspoon more cinnamon than is called for in the recipe. I also use quick oats because I think they bake up just a little softer. I do like these cookies soft so I bake them until they are just set, about 7 minutes. I used Guittard butterscotch chips this time. I can’t always find them, but when I do, I think they taste a little less artificial than the Nestle brand.

Oatmeal Scotchies

adapted from the Nestle Toll House Butterscotch Chips

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups quick or old-fashioned oats
~2 cups (11 or 12-oz. pkg.) Butterscotch Flavored chips

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in oats and morsels. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 7 to 8 minutes for chewy cookies or 9 to 10 minutes for crisp cookies. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

A Tribute to Canada! Great Canadian Heinz Ketchup Cupcakes with Poutine

A set of Poutine cupcakes
A good friend of mine is Canadian and in celebration of her birthday I wanted to make a tribute to Canada in cupcakes.  Another friend and I tossed around ideas of what we thought of when we thought of Canada, including:
hockey
“eh”
snow, cold
maple (trees, leaf, syrup)
people who want to live in the 51st US state (just kidding!)
moose
Queen Elizabeth
canoes
poutine

My friend is from western Canada, so that ruled out the maple.  Some of other concepts were difficult to put into a dessert. While googling for other ideas, we also found a recipe for the Great Canadian Ketchup cake. This seemed intriguing and definitely fit the theme. Although I don’t particularly associate ketchup with Canada, why not. This recipe is from the Heinz website that was in honor of its centennial in Canada.  We thought the poutine would make an excellent decoration.  Poutine is basically fries with gravy and cheese curds, although there are many variations.

Heinz ketchup poutine cucpakeThe cupcakes were quite tasty and if I didn’t mention the secret ingredient, no one would have known it was ketchup.  They had nice texture, were moist, and tasted like a spice cake. I used a red food gel food coloring to get the intense color, although my pictures don’t show it, they were very red. I kept the quirkiness of the original recipe with the letter “u” in color, etc.  The poutine decoration added a nice crunchy texture and a bit of salt.  Overall, these worked very well.   With the theme decoration these won’t be in the regular rotation, but I would make them again.

Great Canadian Ketchup Cupcake with Poutine

makes about 22 cupcakes

2 cups (500 mL) All-purpose flour
2 tsp (10 mL) Baking powder
1 1/2 tsp (7 mL) Ground cinnamon
1 tsp (5 mL) Baking soda
1/2 tsp (2 mL) Each ground nutmeg and ginger
1/2 cup (125 mL) Heinz Tomato Ketchup
1/2 cup (125 mL) Water
2 tbsp (30 mL) Red food colouring
3/4 cup (175 mL) Butter, softened
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) Dark brown sugar, packed
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Put the liners in the cupcake tins.
Stir the flour with the baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg and ginger into a bowl. Stir the
ketchup, water and colouring in a separate bowl. Set aside.
Beat the butter and blend in the sugar in a large bowl until smooth. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour
mixture and ketchup mixture. Beat on low, scraping down the bowl as needed, until combined.
Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for one minute.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans.
Bake for about approximately 20 minutes, or until the centre springs back when touched lightly.
Cool the cupcakes for 15 minutes before turning onto a rack to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from Good Eats
yield: 2 cups (makes extra frosting)

8 ounces cream cheese
2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
9 ounces powdered sugar (sifting is optional)

In the bowl of stand mixer with paddle attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter on medium just until blended an very smooth. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. With the mixer speed on low, add the powdered sugar in 4 batches and beat until smooth between each addition. Place the frosting in the refrigerator for 5 to 10 minutes before using.

Poutine Decoration

Using Piknik Sticks (or an equivalent potato stick snack) create piles of of the sticks in the manner of a pile of french fries. Using Brown Decorating Gel create the “gravy” to cover the fries. Come back with White Decorating Geland add the “cheese curds” as little drops.  It was also helpful to play with some sample decorations on a plate before making the real ones on the cupcakes.

Buttermilk Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

buttermilk cupcake

I was looking through my cookbooks for a recipe with buttermilk, since I had some in the fridge. This seemed like a simple recipe. I baked them and was picking out a frosting when I realized that I previously made this recipe a few months ago.   When I ate them, I realized why I didn’t remember making them, they are very forgettable. I didn’t even remember to blog about them.  They have a nice texture but very little flavor.  I think these would be better with a filling and a strong frosting.  Or they can be a base for additional flavors.  I actually got sixteen cupcakes.  The frosting was used in Surprise Cookies which were a chocolate cookie base, with a marshmallow and a chocolate frosting to hide the marshmallow and make it a surprise.   This frosting is very thick and a little sweet.  If I made it again I would use less confectioners sugar and this would still have enough thickness but it would be a little less sweet.

Buttermilk Cupcakes

adapted from Cupcakes: Luscious bakeshop favorites from your home kitchen by Shelly Kaldunski

makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tbl vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

Chocolate frosting

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

3 cups confectioners’ sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
¼ cup plus 1 ½ teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not dutch-processed)
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk
¾ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Put confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Melt butter with the cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Add butter mixture to the confectioners’ sugar. Whisk in the milk and vanilla.