Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Butterscotch Pudding

butterscotch pudding in tiny crystal bowl with spoon


[Quick shameless plug: vote here for my Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes to win Iron Cupcake:Earth!]

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! It's been a pretty hectic couple of weeks for me, so I ended up having to skip last week's Tuesdays with Dorie :( Since the TWD rules are a little more lenient this month, I decided to make butterscotch pudding for this week instead of the cheesecake. (Sorry Anne, but I'll definitely make it soon!) The butterscotch pudding was chosen for last week by Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases.

[recipe here]

butterscotch pudding ingredients on counter

Dorie recommends using a single malt scotch in this recipe, but I didn't. We actually have a bottle of Macallan (aka "the Single Malt against which all others must be judged"), but since it was a wedding present for A., I had to get this little bottle of Dewar's (blended malt) instead to use in the pudding. Whatever ;)

making pudding in food processor

I broke out the food processor for this pudding, even though I had successfully used the immersion blender for the chocolate pudding. I did it mainly because there seemed to be a bunch of steps and back-and-forth between the stovetop and the FP, which is also the reason there aren't many pictures of this process;)

finished butterscotch pudding with saran wrap on top

I was actually very excited and intrigued to taste this pudding, because I had never realized that true butterscotch had, well, scotch in it! I really liked the rich flavor of this pudding, and I could definitely taste the scotch in there. Highly recommended ;)

Check out Donna's blog for the recipe, and don't forget to check out the rest of the TWD bakers this week (the majority of whom are probably feasting on delicious cheesecake!)

butterscotch pudding in blue bowl with spoon

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream

cupcakes with a bite taken out

The challenge: Iron Cupcake:Earth. The theme: Chocolate with a Twist. Admittedly, something like peppermint would be more suited to the holiday season, but I've been wanting to try bacon cupcakes for a while, and I figured this was the perfect chance!

[recipe here]

I've seen bacon cupcakes at a few places around the internet, and I was definitely wary at first. But after reading how much people loved them, I went and tried the Mo's Chocolate Bacon bar and was immediately hooked on the salty, smoky flavors in the bacon alongside the rich and bitter chocolate.

cupcake top view

For the frosting, I wanted something complementary to both flavors, so I went for a caramel Swiss meringue buttercream. It was sooo good just by itself that if it weren't for the POUND of butter in it, I would have just eaten the frosting by the spoonful;) (OK, OK, I did... but only a little!)

cooked bacon

I cooked the bacon in the micro until it was crispy, then chopped it up very fine. I think next time I might use even more bacon (I used 1/2 pound uncooked).

chopped bacon


The batter was very smooth and shiny, since the butter in the recipe is melted with the chocolate and there is not too much flour.

cake batter

bacon on top of batter

I used a #20 disher at first, but it was making way too many cupcakes, so I put a little more in each one. Next time I will use a #16 disher.

batter-filled cups

A. and I have been playing a "Hide the Pleepleus" game. I'm hiding him on my blog. ;)

Pleepleus

The cupcakes are moist inside, but not dense. They get a bit of a crust on top, as you can see. These are the cupcakes that I added an extra tablespoon-ish batter to:

fully baked cupcakes

And here are a few cupcakes that came from the #20 disher with no extra batter:

smaller cupcakes

Here are the finished products! I had to put some red sugar sprinkles on them after this to distract from the mostly-fugly piping job. I don't seem to be getting any better at piping, even after watching videos and such. I guess I just need to practice some more... :) Anyone have some tips for me??

frosted cupcakes


[recipe]
Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream
Recipe for cupakes adapted from chockylit's chocolate cupcakes, and recipe for frosting from Martha Stewart's caramel buttercream.

Cupcakes: Chocolate Bacon Cupcakes (yields around 24)

200 grams of dark chocolate, chopped
3 sticks butter (340 g), at room temperature
2-1/4 cups sugar (250 g)
8 eggs
1-1/4 cup flour (165 g)
1/4 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened (23 g)
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 pound uncooked bacon


  • Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

  • Cook the bacon until crispy. (I like to do this in the microwave for maximum crispiness, but you could also use a skillet.) Chop the bacon into very small pieces and set aside.

  • Place chocolate and butter in a metal bowl (you can use the bowl of a standing mixer) and put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Stir until everything is melted.

  • Remove the bowl from the water and stir in the sugar. Let the mixture cool for 10 minutes.

  • Meanwhile, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt; set aside.

  • When the chocolate mixture is cool, beat with an electric mixer or your stand mixer for 3 minutes. The mixture will get just a tad thicker.

  • Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each one. After two or three eggs, the mixture will start to get thicker and shinier.

  • Once all the eggs are incorporated, add the dry ingredients. Mix on a low speed until the dry ingredients are just incorporated.

  • Add the bacon and fold it in with a spatula.

  • Scoop the batter into cupcake cups until 1/2 to 2/3 full. (I used my #20 disher, but it was actually a little small, so I added another tablespoon to each. Next time I will go for the #16 disher.)

  • Bake at 350° Fahrenheit for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes in the pan before removing to a cooling rack.



Frosting: Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream

1 1/4 cups sugar (250 g), separated in half (1/2 c + 2 Tbsp per half, or 125 g)
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup heavy cream
6 large egg whites (I use powdered egg whites plus water)
Pinch of salt
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into tablespoon-sized pieces
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

  • Make the caramel: Place half of the sugar and the water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is clear. Let the syrup come to a boil, washing down the sides with a wet pastry brush if necessary to prevent crystals from forming.
    Boil the syrup, swirling occasionally, until it changes color to dark amber (~340° on a candy thermometer).

  • Immediately remove from the heat (the sugar will burn if it gets to 350°). Carefully add the cream, standing away from the pan since the mixture will bubble a lot. Stir the caramel until smooth and transfer to a heatproof bowl to cool. (I actually put the bowl into an ice bath, stirring occasionally, to help it cool faster.)

  • While the caramel cools, place the rest of the sugar, the egg whites and the salt in the metal bowl of a standing mixer. Place the bowl over a pan of boiling water. Whisk continuously until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture reaches 140° Fahrenheit.

  • Fit the standing mixer with the whisk attachment and put the bowl in place. Beat the mixture on medium-high speed until it is stiff.

  • Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and begin adding the butter, a tablespoon or two at a time (it really needs to be room temperature/soft before doing this). Beat until the butter is no longer visible, and add in more, until it is all added. At some point it will look curdled and broken, but just keep on beating and beating until it gets smooth again. This could take a few minutes.

  • Switch to the paddle attachment and add the caramel and vanilla extract. Beat on low until combined and smooth, 3 to 5 minutes.

  • At this point you can frost your cupcakes, or you can refrigerate the buttercream for up to 2 days. When you want to use it, take it out of the fridge and bring to room temperature, about an hour. Rebeat in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.


[/recipe]


I took these cupcakes to my uncle's 60th birthday party, and they went over very well! I highly recommend them, and I wish I could eat one every day ;)

finished cupcake

Below are the prizes for the Iron Cupcake:Earth winner!

Etsy Prize Pack, consisting of:
* a prize from BETTY TURBO
* cupcake earrings from LOTS OF SPRINKLES
* a prize from Cakespy

Plus, there are also cupcake pincushions up for grabs, complements of Sweet Cuppin' Cakes Bakery and Cupcakery Supply.

And, as always, the Iron Cupcake corporate prize providers are:
HEAD CHEFS by FIESTA PRODUCTS, HELLO CUPCAKE by Karen Tack and Alan Richardson, JESSIE STEELE APRONS, CUPCAKE COURIER, and
TASTE OF HOME books. Iron Cupcake:Earth is also sponsored by 1-800-Flowers.

Good luck to all of the other bakers... but please vote for ME ;) You can vote starting on Monday, Dec. 29th at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner!

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Winner Is...



Thanks so much for all of you who entered my apron giveaway! I hopped over to random.org to pick a winner, and out of 51 entries, it spit out the number 30. So congratulations to...



Congratulations, Isadora! I'll be in touch with you for your address, and I hope you enjoy the apron. :)

Thanks so much to all 51 of you who entered! I loved hearing from you and learning about a few new Christmas songs I'd never heard of before ;) Sorry I couldn't send one to each of you, but I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season!

holiday red velvet cupcake

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German Chocolate Spice Cake

cake slice with cake on platter in background


[recipe here]

When one of my best friends from college told me that her mother had written a novel, I immediately clicked over to Amazon to order it. Her novel, A Merger of Equals, is an entertaining and insightful book about a woman finding her place and becoming a leader in the corporate world, all the time trying to keep a balance with her personal life. The author is Debra Snider, a former executive who now spends her time writing, public speaking and running her blog and website.

cake slice closeup on plate

Being a young woman in a field that is still male-dominated (computer programming), I could definitely relate to Jane, the main character in the novel. After devouring the book, I visited Debra's website and was really astounded by all of the helpful information there, especially her Suit Yourself essays. They are not just about the corporate world, but about knowing yourself and what will make you happy and satisfied in life. I would recommend them to anyone!

Debra and I have become online pals, and since she knows about my blog and baking obsession, she sent me a few of her favorite recipes to try. (She also has a page on her website with some recipes.) They all sound delicious, and I'm looking forward to trying them all out, but this German Chocolate Spice Cake sounded like the perfect one to try for the winter season.

German's chocolate package

German Chocolate Cake is not actually from Germany, but instead gets its name from Samuel German, the inventor of the type of chocolate used in the cake. It's a sweet chocolate intended for baking.

chocolate bar

I'd never seen a recipe that called for grated chocolate, so I was intrigued to see how it would affect the cake. OK, I could have used the food processor to grate this, as Debra suggested. I probably should have. My aversion to washing it was just too strong, so I ended up with fairly messy and chocolatey hands after the grating was finished.

grated chocolate with grater

The initial batter after adding the dry ingredients:

batter before chocolate

After mixing in the grated chocolate, it reminded me a bit of stracciatella gelato:

batter with chocolate added

Egg whites, beaten to "stiff, but not dry, peaks":

egg whites stiff but not wet

And the final batter, after folding in the whites. Debra uses her hands to fold, but I used my spatula ;)

final batter

I was excited to finally use the big bundt pan I got for my bridal shower... in May. I really wish I had more time for baking!

batter in bundt pan

Well, of course I forgot to lower the temperature in the oven to compensate for my dark pan. I think that's why I got a giant puffed ring in the middle of the cake, because the sides cooked too quickly. If anyone has any other ideas, let me know!

cake just out of the oven

Despite it not being flush on the bottom, it was still a beautiful cake! I think it kinda looks like the mushrooms from Super Mario Bros. ;)

cake flipped out of pan

I used mostly turbinado sugar, because I actually ran out of regular sugar. I love the way you can see the sugar crystals in this shot.

cake closeup of outside

[recipe]
German Chocolate Spice Cake
courtesy of Debra Snider


From Debra: This pound cake is great under any circumstances, but like all pound cakes, it’s at its very best after 8 hours or more. I usually make it the day before, or very early the morning of, the day I’m going to serve it.

2-1/2 cups flour (325 g)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
1 cup butter (225 g)
2 cups granulated sugar (400 g)
5 eggs
1 bar Baker’s German chocolate (4 oz, 115 g)
½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.

Separate eggs and set aside.

Grate chocolate bar (do this with the grating blade in the food processor or a box grater) and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar, then add egg yolks and mix well. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk (dry, milk, dry, milk, dry) and mix to incorporate. Stir in grated chocolate.

Beat egg whites separately until stiff, but not dry, peaks form. Fold them into the batter. (Use your hands or a spatula to do the folding.)

Turn into greased bundt or other tube pan and bake for 60 minutes, until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Let cool in pan for 20 minutes, then turn onto wire rack and cool completely.
[/recipe]


The finished cake is really delicious! I love the way the spices and the chocolate come together and give the cake a nice and rich flavor. The texture is moist with a tight crumb. I'm not ashamed to admit that I had a big slice for breakfast several days running ;)

Thanks again to Debra for the recipe!

cake slice on plate with bite taken out

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Buttery Jam Cookies

buttery jam cookie stack

[recipe here]

Continuing the TWD cookie theme of the past couple of weeks, Heather of Randomosity and the Girl chose Buttery Jam Cookies as this week's recipe. They turned out to be delicious little cakey domes of goodness, and a welcome break from the cookie cutters :)

buttery jam cookie stack deconstructed

These were fairly straightforward, with the only unique ingredients being a tiny bit of ginger and, of course, the jam. I used the same raspberry jam that went into my Linzer Sables, because it is so sweet it hurts my teeth, and I love it.

cast of characters

I like to line up the ingredients in the order they're going in to the mix;)

ingredients in line for the pool

Can I please tell you how cute this is? Yes, I got yelled at when A. found it (no room, blah blah blah). But come on. Adorable. And kinda useful, at least in this case:)

tiny measuring cup

To scoop these out, I used my #40 disher. It was definitely bigger than the teaspoon size Dorie suggested, but I liked the larger size, and I got exactly 24 cookies.

cookie batter scooped on sheet

They spread out a little, but only just enough to enhance their cuteness.

cookies baked

baked cookies on cooling rack

I liked them a lot, especially when they were fresh out of the oven and just a little chewy in the middle. I think I would have liked some more jam flavor, though, or maybe a bit more ginger, which I didn't think showed up at all. But, overall, very tasty and easy-to-make treats! Thanks, Heather, for this yummy pick :) Don't forget to check out the rest of the TWD bakers, and if you haven't already signed up for my apron giveaway, go sign up now! :)

buttery jam cookie stack

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Holiday Apron Giveaway!

[Edit: Comments are closed and a winner has been chosen!]

rosemary tree

I can hardly believe it, but Scrumptious Photography is 1 year old today!! :) It has been a great year personally — I got married and had an amazing honeymoon to Greece — and I've loved meeting so many people through my blog and learning so much about baking, food and food photography.

In keeping with the holiday spirit and the celebration of my blogoversary, I wanted to share the love with all of my readers and have a giveaway! I'm sure you all love free stuff as much as I do, so read on to see the prize...

menorah

But before we get to the giveaway, I want to tell you about a couple of new things going on ;) I've recently joined Twitter! If you're also on Twitter, let me know by following me. You can also keep up with my tweets in the Twitter Updates section at the right.

Also, you can now subscribe to my blog through email, as well as in your RSS reader like before. Either click on the "Subscribe" link at the top right, or scroll down to find the Subscribe via Email button.


Enough of that... on to the actual giveaway! ;)

...::Drumroll::...

It's a Jessie Steele snowflake apron!



Yes, it's the uber cute one that's on the Jessie Steele homepage at the moment. I got it at Girly Aprons (sorry to the guys... distinct lack of manly aprons there). By the way, I just want you to know that I am totally jealous of whoever wins this. But I'm pretty sure A. would object to my keeping it, since I already have 2 aprons in our tiny closet ;)

Here's how to win...

  • Leave a comment on this post! Tell me what your favorite holiday song is :) (Mine is The Christmas Song!)

  • Make sure I have some way to contact you to let you know if you've won.

  • Multiple entries will only count as one.

  • The winner will be chosen at random using random.org.


That's it! I'll announce the winner next Wednesday, December 17.

In the meantime, check out some photos of the packaged apron by my teeny Christmas "tree" (which is actually rosemary!)

apron under rosemary tree apron in package


Good luck and Happy Holidays!! :)

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie: Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies

cookies in snowman box close up

[recipe here]

This week's TWD recipe, chosen by Ulrike of Küchenlatein, is a classic: blissfully simple and delicious. It's a really good thing I got most of these out of the apartment, because I was a fiend for both the cookies and the cookie dough! Although the recipe is very simple, I know a lot of the TWD'ers are probably going to go all-out for the holidays, so I attempted to follow suit!

cookies in snowman box

The ingredient list was just butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking soda, salt and vanilla. As Dorie said, the dough ended up being very soft before its two-hour chill. (Seriously, I'm getting sick of all of this waiting! :-p)

ingredients

dough being wrapped up

After it firmed up in the fridge, I rolled it out and cut it with some cute and tiny holiday cutters my sister-in-law gave me (the same one who will only eat canned cranberry sauce... ;) I think this absolves her).

small cookies on sheet to be baked

I also used some larger cutters to get a few big cookies, because sometimes I just have to throw portion control out the window. :-p

large cookies on sheet to be baked

For decoration, I dug some red, green and silver colored sugar out of the depths of the cupboard to sprinkle on top.

cookies with colored sugar on top

The cookies spread out in the oven more than I expected, but luckily, they were still cute :)

baked cookies


They were so delicious! After they cooled, they had a crispy outside with a slightly chewy interior. I like chewy cookies, so I actually liked them better on the second day, when the whole cookie got a bit chewier. Many thanks to Ulrike for choosing this simple and versatile recipe! Now go check out all of the lovely cookies on the other TWD blogs :)

cookie with bite out of it

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