Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mixed Nut and Chocolate Cookies

It turns out I have had some time to bake while here in DC for the summer, so I decided to make some cookies to bring into the office. My original intention was to make cashew butter cookies with white chocolate, but the store was out of cashew butter, so instead I used almond butter. But, it turns out I didn’t have enough almond butter, so I had to use some peanut butter. And of course, the ground nuts I used (I chopped them with a knife), were cashews. Hence why these are a mixed nut cookie. I also used both white and semisweet chocolate chips in these cookies. Overall, I’m not positive the variety of nuts or nut butters really came through, it might have been easier to just use peanut-butter, but the cookies themselves were excellent. The recipe is based on one I found here. I made these cookies small, and doubled the recipe when I made it, which made a huge number of cookies, nearly 150.

2 1/2 c flour 
1/2 tsp baking powder 
1/2 tsp baking soda 
1 tsp salt 
16 Tbs (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool 
1 c brown sugar 
1 c granulated sugar 
1 c almond butter 
2 large eggs 
1 T vanilla 
1 c cashews 
6 oz. white chocolate chips 
6. oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Beat the butter until creamy. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy. Add the vanilla, followed by the eggs one at a time.

3. Beat in the almond butter. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by the chopped cashews and the chocolate chips.

4. Roll the cookie dough into 1 T sized balls. Place on cookie sheets 1-2 inches apart. Bake for 11 minutes, or until just browned. Remove from the oven and let cool.

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Well, it is again time for my summer break, and I'm not entirely sure what that will mean for this blog over the next few months. I'm moving to DC for the summer for a job, which will mean that I'm far from my faithful kitchen and ingredients. I have packed a mixing bowl and egg beater, just in case, but I really don't know if I'll have time to do much baking or cooking. What does that mean for the blog; I don't know yet. I might turn it into DC restaurant reviews, or maybe a blog on interesting things you can make with ingredients that come primarily from Trader Joes. I'd be happy to take any suggestions, and don't worry, Amicus Cupcake will be back in strength in come August, no matter what the summer holds. Thanks for Reading!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Malted Milk Mini Cupcakes

People seem to have one of three responses to malt; they either love it, hate it, or have no idea what it is. I fall into that first category, malt is absolutely one of my favorite flavors. When it comes to malted milk, I like Carnation, and don’t recommend Ovaltine, which I think is more of a drink mix than straight up malted milk powder. With these cupcakes I hoped to bring that out. The recipe I used comes from the book Baked: New Frontier’s in Baking, but I got it reposted over at How To Eat a Cupcake. My addition to the recipe is the filling, which is a vanilla pastry cream with malt. I was hoping for something that would make the whole cake a little creamier, brining the malt back to its milkshake roots.

 I made these for May week, which is actually an event for my journal where we have to do a bunch of extra work the week after finals ends (Fun!). Since I needed to make a lot of these for the office, I decided to make them mini. How To Eat a Cupcake’s review of these is definitely correct, they are super tender, and almost fall out of their wrappers. People really enjoyed these, and they received many compliments, including one person telling me that no one ever needs to bother with cupcakes again, as these are their “Platonic Form” (If you know what that means, it should give you a sense of the kind of nerds I hang out with). Even if you don’t understand it, know that these cupcakes come highly recommended.

Because these cupcakes are so small, the cone method I normally use for filling the cupcakes doesn’t work (the cupcakes just fall apart). Instead I injected the filling using a pastry bag. All you do is fit a pastry bag with a small, round tip, fill the bag with the pastry cream, gently push the tip into the cupcake, and squeeze. You just want to squeeze enough in so that the cupcake starts to bulge, or filling comes out the hole. Too much and you risk tearing apart the cake. That said, I’d never done this before, and found it very easy, so don’t let it intimidate you.

Malted Mini Cupcakes

Makes ~60 mini cupcakes

1 cup
½ cup all-purpose flour 
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg 
1/2 cup malted milk powder 
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened 
1/4 cup vegetable shortening 1 cup sugar 
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup ice cold water 
2 egg whites

1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees and line your mini cupcake pan with liners. In a medium bowl sift together the first seven ingredients, then give them a good whisk to make sure they are well blended.

2. Put the butter and shortening in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until smooth, 3-4 minutes. Add the sugar and beat until fluffy, 3 more minutes.

3. Reduce the mixer speed to low. Add a quarter of the flour mixture, followed by a third of the ice water. Continue alternating, until both are fully added, ending with the flour.

4. In a clean bowl, whip the egg whites to soft peaks. Add to the batter and gently fold to combine.

5. Fill the cupcakes liners ½ to 2/3 full, but be careful not to overfill. Bake for 14 minutes, or until tops are just golden, and a tester comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack.


Vanilla Malted Pastry Cream

Makes 2-3 cups (more than you will need)

3 egg yolks 
¾ cup sugar, divided 
6 Tbs corn starch 
2 ½ cups whole milk 
1 T vanilla paste 
2 T malted milk powder, divided1. In a large bowl whisk together the egg whites and ¼ cup + 2 T of the sugar. Add the corn starch 1 T at a time, whisking thoroughly after each (believe me, you don’t want to add it all at once).

2. Combine the remaining sugar, the milk, the vanilla, and 1 T of the malted milk powder in a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly with a flat ended spatula to scrape the bottom of the pan.

3. Remove the milk from the heat. Pour ¼ of the milk mixture into the eggs in a thin stream, whisking constantly. Pour the remaining milk mixture into the eggs and whisk to combine.  Put the bottom of the pot into cold water to cool it. Place it back on the stove on a cool burner. Pour the mixture back into the pot, and begin heating over medium high heat.

4. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, until it thickens into a paste. This may take awhile, I found it happened just after 170 degrees. At first you might think your pastry cream is curdling, or that it’s separated, just keep mixing, and it will come together. Make sure you heat the pastry cream over 180, if On Food and Cooking is accurate, you should actually be able to bring it to a boil without burning it, so don’t worry too much.

5. Once the pastry cream is thickened, remove from the heat and pour through a strainer into a clean bowl. You will probably need you use your spatula to push it through the strainer. Quickly whisk in the remaining 1 T of malted milk powder.

6. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the pastry cream and refrigerate until cool and set.


Milk Chocolate Frosting

4 oz. Milk Chocolate, chopped 
4 oz. Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped 
¾ cup heavy cream 
1 T light corn syrup 
1 ½ sticks butter, softened

1. Put the chocolates in the bowl of a standing mixer, and set aside. Put the cream and corn syrup in a medium sauce pan and bring to a simmer.

2. Pour the cream over the chocolates, and let stand for 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk until smooth. Set aside (or refrigerate) until completely at room temperature.

3. Attach the bowl to the mixer set with the whisk attachment. Gradually add the softened butter, whisking on medium speed until totally smooth.

4. Refrigerate for a few minutes, until firm enough to pipe.



As described above, pipe the pastry cream into the cupcakes. Top each cupcake with frosting, and refrigerate.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Aztec Chocolate Cookies

Finals time is finally over! Hooray! Of course I still have a massive research paper to write, but that won’t stop me from doing some baking. Of course the end of finals entailed some celebrations, so I made some cookies. I found this recipe for “Aztec Chocolate Cookies” here, and thought they sounded pretty good; and they definitely lived up to my expectations. They were a little spicier than I expected, but I didn’t mind it. It also turned out I didn’t have any chocolate chips, so instead I chopped 7oz. of a semisweet chocolate bar (I used part of a Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Bar). I think the irregular chunks added something to the cookies over chocolate chips. The chocolate stayed gooey for hours after baking. I would definitely recommend these.

Aztec Chocolate Cookies

Makes ~25

1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle chili pepper
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup dark-brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
7 ounces semisweet chocolate chips / chocolate chunks
1/4 cup granulated sugar

1. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, ginger, cinnamon, chipotle powder, and cocoa powder.

2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the honey and vanilla and beat until mixed.

3. In a small bowl dissolve the baking soda in 1 ½ tsp boiling water. With the mixer on low speed add half the flour mixture, followed by the baking powder mixture, and then the rest of the flour.

4. Stir in the chocolate chunks. Place the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Roll the dough into 2 inch balls, and roll them in granulated sugar. Place the dough 2 inches apart on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Flatten the cookies slightly. Bake the cookies for 18-20 minutes.

6. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 2 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool until cool, if you can wait that long.

Saturday, May 2, 2009


I don’t know why, but when I first read the recipe for chocolate ribbons in Bakewise the first thought my mind went to was “you could use that to make dessert suishi.” And so I set out to try it. This “sushi” is composed of malleable chocolate, rolled around a filling of coconut rice, mangos, pineapple, and kiwi. I topped it off with mango “caviar” in an attempt to complete the tromp l’oie effect. I have to say, making this was a whole lot of work. I’d never made malleable chocolate before, but it is not the easiest thing to use, specifically rolling it out is challenging, expect to get a good work out. I did think this tasted really good, when you first bite in the fruit and rice hit your mouth, followed by the taste of the chocolate. The recipe here is largely a guide, as these could be filled with almost anything, and a pretty wide variety of fruits would be good. I have cut the recipe for coconut rice in half from what I used, as it made way more than I needed. I would also recommend adding some flaked, sweetened coconut to the rice after it is cooked (or maybe just some coconut extract), as I didn’t think the coconut flavor came through as much as I’d like.

Making the mango caviar was my first experiment with “spherification” – turning liquids into spheres. I used agar agar for this spherification, rather than the more complicated chemicals used for dishes like liquid ravioli. This method has the disadvantage of turning the spheres into solid gel all the way through, but the advantage of using an ingredient that can be found in most health food stores and Asian markets, and doesn’t cost an absurd amount. I have read a number of recipes on this technique, and I’m not sure if you’re supposed to bring the agar agar mixture to a boil or not, I did. One recipe also said to blitz the mixture with an immersion blender, which I didn’t bother with. This was a mistake, as many of the agar agar flakes didn’t dissolve, resulting a weaker gel, and the occasional chunk of agar agar. I will definitely experiment with this technique again. I didn’t bother using a hypodermic needle to make my spheres, I just dripped the juice from a measuring cup. I also tried using a pastry bag, but attempts so squeeze near boiling liquid did not go well.

Coconut Sticky Rice

2 t flavorless oil (canola, vegetable)
1 cup Thai jasmine Rice
1 cup coconut milk
¾ cup water 
¼ tsp salt
1 T brown sugar

1. Use a paper towel to oil the bottom of a medium pot. Combine all ingredients in the pot over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, making sure to scrape the bottom.

2. Once the mixture begins to bubble, stop stirring, turn heat down to low, and cover the pot with a lid. Leave the lid slightly askew so that some steam can escape. Cook 15-20 minutes, until rice has absorbed all of the liquid.

3. Turn off the heat, but leave the pot on the burner and let rest for 5-10 minutes.

4. Remove the rice from the heat, and let cool COMPLETELY. If you want to use the rice soon, you might spread it in a baking pan or put it into the fridge or freezer. It is imperative that the rice be cold when you put it into the sushi, otherwise it will melt through your carefully rolled sushi, and cursing will ensue!


Mango Caviar

1 cup mango juice
1 T agar agar flakes* 
1-2 cups very cold (preferably from the freezer), neutral oil (such as vegetable or canola)

*I used flakes, because that is what my store had. The package had the 1 to 1 ratio on it, if you have a different form of agar (such as powder) check your packaging for the appropriate ratio. Otherwise, I have read that you want between 1-2% weight of agar to liquid. A cup of juice should take about 2.5 grams of agar.

1. Pour the cold oil into a shallow dish. You want breadth, not depth, you probably need less than an inch of depth.

2. Combine the mango juice and the agar argar. Blitz the mixture with an immersion blender to break up the agar agar. Put the mixture into a small saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a heavy boil.

3. Pour the mixture into a spouted measuring cup. Drip the mixture into the cold oil. You should see your droplets settle on the surface, then sink and turn into spheres after a few moments. How much you drip will determine the size of your spheres.

4. Make as many spheres as you want. Pour the remaining mango mixture into a ramekin and place in the fridge to set as a nice mango jelly. Use a fork to test if your spheres have set (they should be solid and resist the fork. If they haven’t set, place the pan into the freezer for a few minutes.

The caviar may look flat from the top, but from the side you can see they're really spheres

5. Pour the oil and mango caviar through a fine mesh strainer. Rinse the mango caviar with slow running, cold water, to clean off the remaining oil. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Malleable Chocolate Sushi wrappers

This may make more than you need, I only made one “roll” of sushi so I had a lot leftover

10 oz. semisweet chocolate

1/3 cup + ½ tsp light corn syrup (Bakewise recommends pouring this from a measuring cup that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray, so that all of it will come out easily. I scraped it out with a spatula)

1. Melt the chocolate in a medium saucepan over low heat. Once the chocolate is melted and smooth, remove from heat.

2. Quickly stir in the corn syrup into the chocolate. At this point you will have a wet, sticky mess. Use your spatula to continuously turn the mixture and fold it over on itself. As the mixture cools and you work it, it will begin to form a dough. Eventually the dough will pull away from the sides, and will no longer be sticky when you touch it (this may take awhile, I would guess it took me ten minutes).

3. Dump the dough onto a clean counter. Flatten the dough out, and fold it over on itself three times. Press it together, flatten it out, and fold it over again. Do this several times. When complete press the dough into about a 6 inch disk, wrap with plastic wrap, and refrigerate several hours or overnight.

4. This is the challenging part. Remove the dough from the fridge. It will be incredibly hard. Put the dough between two pieces of wax paper and begin rolling it out. Bakewise suggests that if the dough is too hard you should give it 10 seconds in the microwave at 30% power, but I didn’t try this. Once you have the dough rolled out, fold it over on itself, and roll it out again. Keep doing this until the dough begins to become reasonably flexible.

5. Bakewise recommends putting the dough through a pasta maker on its widest setting at this point, which turns out to be a remarkably good idea. Just make sure the pasta maker is completely clean, as the chocolate will pick up any dirt in it. Take about a quarter of the chocolate, and run it through the machine. Fold it back on itself, and run it through again. Do this until the chocolate is very flexible. Unfortunately, for a sushi shape, you cannot use the pasta maker, and will need to return to rolling out the chocolate by hand.

6. On a piece of wax paper, roll out your chocolate. It should be considerably easier to work at this point. However, because any flour or powdered sugar will discolor the chocolate, I didn’t use it. Instead, after every roll or two, pick up the parchment paper, and flip the rolled out chocolate onto your hand, (treat it like a pizza dough, and be careful not to let it fold over on itself), and then flip it back onto the wax paper. This will help the keep from getting the chocolate stuck to the paper. Roll the chocolate into roughly a rectangular shape, and use a pizza cutter to trim off any edges. You will not be able to make the chocolate as thin as seaweed, and wouldn’t want to, but try to aim for 4-5 mm at most. Once the chocolate is rolled out, let it rest for at least 5 minutes before using it to make the sushi (I found this made the chocolate a little less prone to breaking when rolled, good time to get the next piece of chocolate ready.


Chocolate sushi

Chocolate sushi “wrappers” (above) 
Cold Coconut rice (Must be completely cooled)  
Thinly sliced sticks of mango, pineapple, and kiwi (or whatever fruit you would prefer)  
Mango caviar 

1. Place a chocolate sushi wrapper on a piece of wax paper, oriented so that the longer direction is perpendicular to you (the photos are not oriented this way) 

2. Spread about ½ cup of rice on the chocolate wrapper, spreading the rice all the way to the edge nearest you leaving about an inch at the far end uncovered. 

3. Place the fruit in a line, about an inch from the nearest edge. 

4. Using the wax paper to help, lift the near end of the sushi, and begin to roll it over on itself. Roll it all the way over, trying to keep the roll tight. Press the chocolate together to seal the roll.
5. Immediately transfer the roll to a plate (be careful to support it under the center when moving), and place in the fridge for 5 minutes to let the chocolate firm up. 

6. When ready to cut, take a very sharp, serrated knife, and run it under hot water. Quickly dry the knife, and use it to slice  the roll into individual sushi. Top each piece of sushi with some mango caviar and serve.