Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes

decorated cupcakes with pumpkin in background

[recipe here]

Happy almost-Halloween! ;) For this week's TWD, the cupcake-loving Clara from i heart food4thought picked Dorie's lone cupcake recipe, the Chocolate-Chocolate cupcakes — with the suggestion that we decorate them for Halloween! (I was very excited to use my little pumpkin again!)

decorated cupcakes with pumpkin on cutting board

I loved all holidays growing up, but Halloween definitely held a special place in my heart. I was, no doubt, a candy addict. Excepting the chalky stuff like Neccos (blech!), I quickly chowed down my entire stash every year until my parents hid it from me ;) So, I was excited to bake a special "grown-up" Halloween treat this year.

cupcake with bite taken out

These cupcakes came out very tasty, with a rich chocolate glaze and a deep chocolate cake flavor, coming from the use of both cocoa and chocolate in the batter.

delicious cupcake batter

I used my #16 disher and got 15 cupcakes out of the recipe. I also committed baking sacrilege (unneccesarily opening the oven door during baking!) to get the photo below ;)

cupcakes in the oven

Like last week, a lot of the bakers had trouble with dryness in the cakes. I pulled mine at 18 minutes instead of the suggested 22, so mine ended up being light and still fairly moist in texture.

cupcakes cooling

I got my chocolate brown liners from Confectionery House. Cute, but expensive, so I use 'em sparingly.

cupcakes cooling on rack

The glaze was easy, just some melted chocolate with butter and powdered sugar mixed in. Dorie's proportions ended up giving me a good consistency.

chocolate glaze in bowl

I started scooping with the spatula, but eventually I just poured the glaze on top of each cupcake, and spread at the end.

spreading the glaze

I found some really cute Halloween-themed sprinkles to use on top! A. is not a fan of sprinkles, though ("You'll ruin it with those stupid things!!"), so I only put them on half of the cupcakes. SOMEONE is not very festive. ;)

decorating with sprinkles

A. and I both thought they were actually better the next day. I don't really know why this happens sometimes with cakes, but it does!

cupcakes lined up on cutting board, focus on front cupcake

Many thanks to the lovely Clara for choosing this recipe! Go get the recipe on her blog, and check out the other TWD blogs for their takes on this yummy dessert. Remember, if you want to bake with us, you have until Halloween to join!

cupcakes lined up on cutting board - overhead shot


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Pumpkin Muffins

muffin with pat of butter

[recipe here]

I love fall! I love the warm colors, the nip in the air, and most of all, pumpkin! I have been fantasizing this year about going pumpkin picking and carving my own pumpkin, but I haven't had the time — fall is also rugby season, so most of my free time is spent rucking and scrumming. My rugby team just won our regional championship, so we're heading to our national tournament in Orlando, FL in a few weeks! Anyway... (sorry... I'm still excited about it!) I was lucky to get a chance to make these muffins for TWD, chosen by Kelly of Sounding my Barbaric Gulp.

muffins with pumpkin in background

I decided to stick with Dorie's suggestion for once and use the raisins. However... I did flame them in some rum beforehand ;) They were nice and moist, and I do like the golden raisins better than regular raisins. I omitted the nuts and seeds... things were getting a little too healthy for comfort ;)

golden raisins

muffin batter with raisins on top

I decided to halve the recipe and make mini-muffins, so I ended up with 24 minis, plus extra batter for 4 more kinda medium-sized muffins. If I make them again, though, I would try to fit all of the batter in the mini muffin tin, since I think they should be a little bigger than this (the muffin top was sorely lacking here).

mini muffins in pan

medium sized muffin in wrapper on top of raisins

The end result was pretty good. I won't say spectacular, because I thought they were a little dry, but I did enjoy the flavor. I think next time I'll try to use oil instead of the butter to see how that turns out.

mini muffins in pile

Another thing I loved about this recipe: giving me an excuse to buy a mini-pumpkin for a prop ;)

pumpkin with muffin balanced on it

pumpkin in muffin wrapper

Thanks to Kelly for a great pick! Get this recipe at her blog , and remember to check out all of the other TWD blogs for their experiences and creative twists on this recipe. If you want to join in, remember that the Oct. 31 deadline is approaching fast!


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Lenox Almond Biscotti

biscotti with mug

[recipe on Gretchen's blog]

I must admit, the first thing that comes to mind when I think of biscotti is jaw pain and chipped teeth. I am not the biggest fan of these twice-baked treats, and neither is A. -- he refers to the second bake as the "ruiner of all good desserts". Despite our prejudices, I still decided to give them a try when Gretchen of Canela & Camino chose them for this week's TWD.

plate of biscotti

I ended up really liking these biscotti! A. liked the flavors, but he still liked them better after just one bake (he stole the cut-off ends while I was cutting the rest of them). I personally love almond flavoring in cookies, so that definitely didn't hurt in my good opinion of them, but I also thought the texture was really nice while still warm — they stayed just chewy enough inside to offset the crunchy exterior.

biscotti batter

I ended up halving the recipe due to the aforementioned prejudices against biscotti. To play around a bit, I used turbinado sugar instead of regular sugar, and I also substituted 100g of coarsely chopped white chocolate for the almonds.

biscotti log before first bake

I, like a lot of other people, experienced a lot of spreading instead of puffing in this recipe, but I didn't really mind.

biscotti log after first bake

Here they are at A.'s favorite stage, pre-second bake:

biscotti after cutting

And after, golden and crunchy on the outside:

biscotti after second bake

In all, I definitely recommend this recipe, even if you think you don't like biscotti! They were very tasty, and I was pleased with the outcome, even if they were a bit thin. Don't forget to check out Gretchen's blog for the recipe, and the rest of the TWD blogroll!

On another note, my apologies for not posting very often in the past few weeks. I never have too much time for baking during rugby season!

biscotti after second bake


Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Caramel-Popcorn-Topped Brownie Cake

brownie cake with caramel drizzles - closeup

[recipe here]
[popcorn instructions here]

A. and I aren't the biggest fans of nuts in desserts, so when it came time to make the Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie Cake for TWD, chosen by Tammy, I decided to sub out the peanuts for popcorn. Hey, it all works together in Cracker Jack, right? In truth, I don't think you could really ruin this dessert as long as you keep in the caramel, because that was just plain delicious.

piece of cake with bite on fork

I didn't have an 8" springform pan around, and reading through the recipe, it seemed that the only purpose of the springform was to keep in the caramel topping. So, I opted to use a regular cake pan to bake with. I think I maybe overbaked this a little bit -- I always forget to turn down the temperature for my dark colored pans!

fully baked brownie cake

I thought it would be fun to try popping the corn on the stove, rather than just getting a bag of microwave stuff like I usually would. According to the package, you just take a heavy-bottomed pot, put in enough oil (I used canola oil) to cover the bottom, and put a few kernels in to be tester kernels.

corn kernels testing the heat

Once those kernels pop, put in the rest of the kernels, moving the pot around to mix up the corn the whole time. It only takes a minute or so for them all to pop. (Consider using a screen on top of the pot to control oil splashing and runaway kernels.)

popcorn starting to pop

After they are all popped, season as you want — I just salted them, since I know that goes well with caramel.

popcorn fully popped

Then, it was caramel time!! Once the sugar syrup reached the caramel stage (the right pic below — 320°-350° F), it was time to add the cream and butter.

cooking the sugar syrupsugar in caramel stage

Everything in the pot foamed like there was no tomorrow, but it eventually calmed down with some stirring and became liquidy caramel.

last stage of caramel

I drizzled the warm caramel over the popcorn — first just a little bit to make a light coating, and then I added some more to the mix before topping the cake.

caramel covered popcorn

My makeshift non-springform-pan solution was to wrap the sides of the cake with aluminum foil, which worked well enough.

cake with aluminum foil on side

I ate one piece of this that night, and it was delicious! According to A., when he took it into work, a lot of the caramel had kind of slid off the side into a giant pool of caramel. Not necessarily a bad thing. ;)

piece of cake -- front view

In all, I was pretty pleased with this recipe, and with the popcorn! Thanks to Tammy of Wee Treats by Tammy for this yummy pic. Go check out her blog for the recipe, and also take a peek at the rest of the TWD blogroll! Don't forget — just a few more weeks to join up!

piece of cake -- side view