Friday, January 30, 2009

The polls are open... please vote for me in this month's Iron Cupcake:Earth challenge! :) Just go to this link, and on the right hand side, select the box next to "Scrumptious Photography" and click the Vote button. You can vote for three cupcakes in total.

Check out my original post with the recipe: Red Wine Cupcakes with cream cheese frosting!


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread - Tuesdays with Dorie

stack of gingerbread with candied ginger

Before making this recipe, I'd never considered that gingerbread could be a cake. I always thought it was limited to being the walls of sugary houses and the stuff of gingerbread men. So when I saw that Heather of Sherry Trifle had picked the Fresh Ginger and Chocolate Gingerbread for this week's TWD, my interest was piqued.

[recipe here]

Side note...the candied ginger in the shot above was part of my sweet secret santa gift from Joanna! Thanks again, Joanna :)

piece of gingerbread cake

The recipe turned out better than anything I'd expected. As A. put it, it was almost a brownie — very moist and dense, with the molasses and chocolate coming out as the key players in the cake. The ginger comes through as an accent, although sometimes you'll bite into a piece of the fresh ginger and get a pop of spicy flavor (probably because I didn't chop it fine enough... :-p)

ginger root

I've never been too crazy about ginger, other than as part of Ginger Ale, until I bought a fresh ginger root one day to use in an Asian recipe. As soon as I smelled that fresh scent while I was chopping it up, I knew that I had really been missing out on something amazing. Of course, then I attempted to taste it raw, and almost choked;)

chopped ginger

With square cakes like this, I really like putting a parchment sling down so it's easy to grab and lift the cake out when it's cool.

baking pan with parchment sling

Dry ingredients, including a mound of ginger...

dry ingredients

I asked A. to get the molasses for me at the store, and unfortunately all they had was a gigundo bottle... guess I'll have to think of some more uses :)


Here is the batter after adding the molasses and melted chocolate — still looks kinda weird and curdled at this point.

batter mid-recipe

The finished batter was considerably more smooth and luscious-looking... here it is before folding in the chocolate chunks.

batter fully combined with chocolate chunks on top

The cake domed a bit, as Dorie said it might, and settled back a little bit after cooling (but not totally flat).

fully baked cake

The topping was a nice and thick chocolate glaze, with coffee to add a little kick. I used instant espresso for this, since it's quick and has a nice strong flavor.

topping poured on top of cake

Dorie said to portion this into 9 pieces, but if I did this again I would definitely cut them smaller! I did like her advice to cut off the sides, though, since mine were pretty dark and too chewy.

gingerbread cut into 9 pieces

For cake:
18 g finely chopped fresh ginger (2 T)
14 g sugar (1 T)
250 g all-purpose flour (2 cups)
1 t baking soda
2 t ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
11 T butter (156 g)
170 g light brown sugar (3/4 c)
3 large eggs
1/2 c molasses
6 oz bittersweet chocolate (170 g)
1 c buttermilk
Optional: 1 T finely chopped stem ginger in syrup (I did not use this)

For topping:
3 oz bittersweet chocolate (85 g)
1 T strong coffee (I used instant espresso)
3 T unsalted butter (42 g)
3 T powdered sugar

Nutrition Facts from
(per square of cake -- 1/9th of cake)
Calories: 598
Fat: 31 g
Saturated Fat: 18 g
Cholesterol: 120 mg
Sodium: 207 mg
Carbohydrates: 74 g
Dietary Fiber: 3 g
Protein: 8 g

Yep, you read those calories right! These have more calories than the Berry Surprise cake. Personally, I couldn't have eaten a whole gingerbread piece of the size Dorie said to cut anyway (1/9th of the cake), because they were so dense and heavy. And now, unfortunately, we see how that translates to calories ;)

Thanks to Heather for picking this yummy recipe. Now, it's about time you went and checked out the rest of this week's TWD entries!

gingerbread with bite taken out


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Red Wine Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

cupcake in wine glass with bottle in background

I was pretty excited when I heard this month's theme ingredient for Iron Cupcake:Earth — wine! Wine is one of my favorite beverages, and I was interested to see how I could incorporate it into a cupcake.

I decided to keep it simple this time, so I made a wine-flavored cake smothered in cream cheese frosting. I loved the idea of adding wine, which has such complex flavors, to a simple and sweet cupcake.

[skip to recipe]

cupcake in wine glass on dark background

The end result was very tasty! I actually used a Cabernet Sauvignon (the only wine that was open at the time), but I think a sweeter wine would make the cupcake even better. Also, you can't really go wrong with cream cheese frosting ;)

I used some purple liners to go with the wine theme. As you can see, in this pic I was playing around with the aperture on my new 50mm f1.4 lens :)

cupcake liners in pan

The recipe is very simple, and you don't need an electric mixer because there is no butter to cream. Instead, there is vegetable oil, which gives the end cake a very moist texture.

First, mix the sugar, oil and eggs with a whisk, and then add in extract:

sugar, oil and eggssugar, oil and eggs mixed

Then, alternate whisking in the dry and wet ingredients — one third of the dry, then the milk, another addition of dry, then the wine, and then the rest of the dry:

adding creamadding more dry ingredients
adding winelast of the dry ingredients

The batter took on kind of a fugly grey color because of the wine, so I added a little bit of red gel food coloring for camouflage. It really took on the red color more than I expected, but I like the way it turned out!

fugly grey batter...turned into red batter

I used a #16 disher to portion them out. By the way, if I ever had to make cupcakes for a group of Red Hat ladies, these would be the cupcakes ;)

filling the purple liners with red batter

Major puffage on these babies. If you don't want a dome, you will get a lot more than 12 cupcakes.

baked cakes

I finished them with cream cheese frosting, which is so simple and so amazingly good.

frosted cakes

And here is the recipe... enjoy! :)

Red Wine Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Adapted from the Pimm's Cupcakes recipe and Cream Cheese Frosting recipe in 125 Best Cupcake Recipes by Julie Hasson

Red Wine cupcakes: (makes around 12)

190 g flour (~1.5 cups)
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
200g sugar (1 cup)
1/2 c vegetable oil (I used canola)
2 eggs
1/2 t flavor or extract of choice (I used strawberry, but vanilla or chocolate extract would be great)
1/3 c red wine (I used Cabernet Sauvignon since I had it on hand, but I think a sweeter wine would work even better, like a Shiraz)
1/3 c milk
red food coloring

  • Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Place liners in a cupcake tin.

  • Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

  • In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, oil and eggs until smooth. Add in the extract and whisk to combine.

  • Add in the dry ingredients alternating with the wet, adding 1/3 of the dry, then the milk, 1/3 of the dry, then the wine, and then the rest of the dry. Mix just to combine with each addition. If desired, whisk in food coloring until uniform. The batter will be very liquidy.

  • Portion the batter into the cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for a couple of minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack until room temperature. Top with Cream Cheese Frosting.

Cream Cheese Frosting: (makes around 2 cups, so you will probably have some left over)

1/2 cup butter, room temperature
pinch salt
125 g cream cheese (4 oz)
~260 g powdered sugar, sifted (2 1/4 cups)

  • In an electric mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and salt until fluffy. Add the cream cheese and beat to combine.

  • Add in the powdered sugar a little at a time until it is all combined, and then beat until it is the consistency you like. If you would like a thicker and sweeter icing, add more sugar.

  • Once frosted, keep the cupcakes stored in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Nutrition Facts from
(per cupcake with 30g of frosting)

Calories: 362
Fat: 19 g
Saturated Fat: 6 g
Cholesterol: 59 mg
Sodium: 111 mg
Carbohydrates: 45 g
Dietary Fiber: 0 g
Protein: 3 g

(Hmm... I shouldn't have had two!!)

cupcakes in a row

This month's winner of Iron Cupcake:Earth gets the following loot...

Etsy Prize Pack:

Corporate prize providers are:

Iron Cupcake:Earth is also sponsored by 1-800-Flowers.

Voting opens on January 29th at No One Puts Cupcake in a Corner, so please head over and vote! :)


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Berry Surprise Cake - Tuesdays with Dorie

entire cake with raspberries on top

This week's TWD recipe, chosen by the lovely Mary Ann of Meet Me in the Kitchen, was a triumphant return to dessert after last week's muffins. The cake is a Berry Surprise Cake, and if it had any lower of a cake-to-cream ratio, I don't think it would qualify to be called a cake. In short, it was spectacular.

[recipe here]

slice of cake

The cake itself is a génoise, or a cake that uses air bubbles from whipping eggs as the main leavener. This recipe had a touch of baking powder as well. I'd never tried one, and I'd heard that they can be tricky, so I decided not to stress too much if it didn't turn out.

eggs and sugar in bowl

The eggs and sugar are whipped over simmering water until the sugar dissolves, and then whipped in the stand mixer until a thick ribbon is formed.

egg mixture, after beating

After the eggs are whipped, the dry ingredients are sifted over top, and then the melted butter is added and carefully folded in. I think I overdid the mixing a little, because I kept finding pockets of flour and trying to incorporate them... which inevitably spelled doom.

cake batter in pan

As you can see, the cake totally collapsed in the oven. However, an idea sprung to mind when I saw the well created by the sinkage...

sunken cake just out of the oven

I just cut a layer off of the bottom of the cake instead of the top, and used the natural well created by the cake to hold the filling instead of cutting a hole. So, I like to think of the fallen génoise as making my work a little easier ;)

layer cut from bottom of cake

The filling was a mix of cream cheese and heavy cream, with a little sugar and vanilla. A few people on the P&Q post had said that it wasn't sweet enough, but I figured it would be good as-is when combined with all of the other ingredients, especially the berries.

the filling

Here is the cake mid-filling, after spreading a little filling and adding the raspberries:

cake with first layer of filling and raspberries

The assembled cake, just before topping with the whipped cream:

assembled cake before whipped cream topping

And the finished cake:

finished cake

Continuing my trend from last week, here are the converted ingredients and the nutrition facts. Since I made the recipe as-is, that's what I've included in the nutrition facts, but there are a number of things you can do to make this lighter — first step is to have a smaller piece, and next step is to get rid of the whipped cream topping.

By the way — if you were depressed about the calories in the previous recipe, my advice is to not read any further! ;)

For cake:
84 g (2/3 c) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
4 large eggs
150 g (2/3 c) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
28 g (2 T) melted and cooled butter

For syrup:
1/3 cup water
40 g (3 T) sugar
1 T kirsch, Chambord or raspberry syrup (I used Chambord)

For filling:
170 g (6 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c plus 2/3 c heavy cream
13.3 g (1 T) sugar
1 1/2 t vanilla extract

For topping:
1 c heavy cream
30 g (3 T) powdered sugar, sifted
1 t vanilla extract

Nutrition Facts from
(per slice of cake -- 1/8th of cake)

Calories: 505
Fat: 33 g
Saturated Fat: 19 g
Cholesterol: 211 mg
Sodium: 152 mg
Carbohydrates: 45 g
Dietary Fiber: 4 g
Protein: 7 g

I guess there are a few less calories in the cake since Dorie says to throw the excess syrup away, but I opted to create some delicious shots with it instead, just using the syrup and an equal part of vanilla vodka. They were amazing.

syrup shots

Thanks to Mare for a delicious selection! Now go check out the rest of the TWD bakers for their cake stories.

entire cake with raspberries on top


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins - Tuesdays with Dorie

muffins with jalapeño pepper

For this week's TWD, Rebecca of Ezra Pound Cake threw in a little variety and chose Savory Corn and Pepper Muffins. I was a little apprehensive about the jalapeños in the recipe, but A. did a taste test first and let me know that they weren't spicy at all. I thought they were delicious, and definitely a refreshing change from all of the sugary baked goods around here!

[recipe here]

three muffins in a stack

These were very quick and easy to make, one of the reasons muffins will always hold a special place in my heart ;) I decided to use red liners to go with the southwest-kind of feel of these muffins.

muffin pan prepped with liners

The recipe calls for a teaspoon and a half of chili powder, so I used the ancho chile powder left over from my Santorini Sensation cupcakes. It is a smoky and mild (heat-wise) chile powder.

ancho chile powder

These muffins had half cornmeal and half flour, giving them a cornbread-like flavor and texture.

dry ingredients

There were bunch of mix-ins to prepare, including corn, chopped fresh cilantro, jalapeño, and red bell pepper, before adding the wet ingredients to the dry.

chopping cilantro

I am not big on spicy foods, but I figured it probably wouldn't be too bad since we were taking out the seeds and membrane of the jalapeño, which are the parts that have the most capsaicin in them.

whole jalapeño

Yes, I am a total dork and wore gloves while handling the jalapeño. Whatever! I have sensitive skin. ;)

de-seeding jalapeño

Here are all the wet ingredients and mix-ins, ready to be added into the dry ingredients:

wet ingredients and mix-ins

The batter after adding the wet ingredients (buttermilk, melted butter and an egg yolk):

first stage of batter

The whisk in the picture was worthless for stirring the mix-ins in to the batter, so I actually used a spatula.

batter with mix-ins

I used a #16 disher to portion the muffins. There was a bit left over after scooping twelve of them, so I just added a little more to each one.

batter in muffin liners

They baked up nicely, and very quickly, since they were in a 400 degree oven.

fully baked muffins

On another note, as part of my new year's resolution, I have been on a diet for the past week or so. I want to lose what I am affectionately calling my "honeymoon weight", so I've started to cut back. It always helps me to keep a log of everything I eat, so in that spirit, I plugged this recipe into the recipe generator on to see how many calories there were per muffin. Results:

Calories: 154
Fat: 9g
Saturated Fat: 5g
Cholesterol: 39mg
Sodium: 334mg
Total Carbohydrate: 17g
Dietary Fiber: 1g
Sugars: 3g
Protein: 3g

Not bad at all! I enjoyed one of these for breakfast, and it was a great start to the day. Now, tell me — should I start including nutrition facts for all recipes? Let me know if it's something you'd like to see! :)

Also, here are the ingredients, which I've converted to weight measurements (the dry ingredients, anyway).

1 cup (125 g) all-purpose flour
1 cup (115 g) yellow cornmeal
3 tablespoons (40 g) sugar
1 tablespoon (12 g) baking powder
1½ teaspoon chili powder, or to taste (I used ancho chile powder)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup buttermilk
1 stick (8 tablespoons, 115 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg yolk
¼ cup corn kernels (I used ½ cup of canned, drained and patted dry)
1 small jalapeño pepper, seeded, deveined and diced
¼ red bell pepper, seeded, deveined and diced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

You can get the full recipe on Rebecca's blog, and don't forget to check out the rest of the TWD bakers' muffins!

muffins on wooden plate