Saturday, July 25, 2009

Brown Sugar Blondies

This is the second dessert I made for my friend’s potluck last weekend. I found the recipe here, and was pretty tempted. I thought the recipe was great. The blondies had a nice molasses flavor, and was excellently moist. Unfortunately, the recipe is largely in grams, and I don’t have a kitchen scale here in DC. I did double the original recipe for baking in a standard US cookie sheet (~11” x 17”, technically a half sheet I believe). The only ingredient I really don’t have a good measure on is the brown sugar. I needed 800 grams, so I just dumped about 8/9 of a 2 lbs (900gram) into the recipe. I thought that these were really good, but I thought it was a little strange that all of the chocolate and nuts were put on top at the end. If I were making this again, I would have stirred the chocolate and nuts directly into the batter.

Chocolate Chip Brownies

Makes 1 cookie sheet worth

¾ Cups (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter
800 grams (most of a 2lbs bag) dark brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
6 eggs, beaten
5 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
Generous pinch of salt
4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
4 oz. milk chocolate, chopped
4. oz pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with non-stick foil. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

2. Over medium heat melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the brown sugar.

3. Remove from heat, and let cool for a moment. Stir in the eggs and vanilla.

4. Sift the flour mixture over the butter mixture. Beat together until just combined.

5. Pour the batter into the prepared cookie sheet. Spread the chocolate and nuts over the batter, and lightly push them into the batter.

6. Bake for 25 minutes, until just firm. Remove and let cool completely before cutting.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Strawberry and Champagne Cupcakes

One of the associates at work hosted a potluck over the weekend, so inevitably I volunteered to bring cupcakes (in fact, it was a bake off between this associate and myself, and I’m fairly certain her cupcakes won, but that shouldn’t be further spoken of). I decided to go for the expimental, and came up with the idea of strawberry and white-chocolate cupcakes with a champagne frosting. Thinking myself quite original, I went searching the internet for a cake recipe to use, when I came upon this. Having found it, I used Cupcake Project’s strawberry cupcakes recipe, but with a few modifications. I changed the frosting over to my champagne meringue. And for the cakes, I added white chocolate chips. To increase the strawberry flavor, I also added powdered strawberry to the cake recipe. I can’t say for sure if this made a difference, other than adding some nice color, but I have a feeling it made the cakes a little stronger. To make strawberry powder, I got some freeze-dried strawberries from Trader Joe’s, which I then crushed into a powder.

When I baked these, I followed the instructions, let them bake for 20 minutes, put in a tester, and took them out of the oven. I let them cool, and decided to eat one, only to discover that it was raw in the center. Panicked, I put the cupcakes back in the oven for about another 10 minutes. They did eventually get fully baked, and for the next bath I increased the time. Nonetheless, I would test multiple cakes before taking these guys out of the oven. I didn’t have any cake flour here in DC, so I used all purpose in its place without a problem.

Strawberry Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

2 ½ C cake flour
1 tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
½ C (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 ½ C sugar
5 T powdered strawberries (see above for details)
2 large eggs
1/3 C buttermilk
¼ C canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 C finely chopped fresh strawberries
12 oz. white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, sift together the cake flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugar, and strawberry powder with an electric mixer.

3. Add eggs. Mix until smooth and creamy. Add buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Mix until combined.

4. Add flour mixture to butter mixture. Mix until just combined.

5. Stir in strawberries and white chocolate chips.

6. Fill cupcake liners using a quarter cup measure (half to two-thirds full). Bake at 350 F for 25-30 minutes, or until tops are golden and testers come out clean. Let cool.

Champagne Meringue Frosting

6 T egg white Powder

2/3 cup extra-dry Champagne

1/4-1/2 cup granulated sugar (to taste)

1. Measure ¾ of champagne (this can be tricky because of the foam). Pour the egg white powder into a large bowl, and add the champagne. Use an electric mixer at high speed to whip the mixture until it becomes foamy. Add the sugar two Tbs at a time (until the taste gets where you like it) and beat until the meringue forms stiff peaks.

2. Frost cupcakes, lightly torch frosting with a culinary torch, or under the broiler.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Tiramisu Mk II

So, this is a bit of a cheat, since most of this recipe has been posted before. It’s such a favorite though that it’s one of the few recipes I am willing to remake. This time I tried to change it up a little. Rather than the standard mascarpone frosting, I made this one by first making a zabaglione, and then beating it with the mascarpone. The frosting was richer than usual (if such a thing is possible), and I thought it had a greater depth of flavor. Once the frosting is in the fridge, it also sets nicely (the ingredients basically are the same as what would go into a cheesecake). I also added orange zest to the sponge cake, but it got a bit lost behind the other flavors. This frosting is really great, a strongly recommend it. Could also be used as a filling for a no-bake cheesecake. Unfortunately, the amounts of marsala and powdered sugar in the frosting are largely estimates, as I just added them until the frosting had the right taste and consistency.

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Makes ~ 30


6 eggs, separated
3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup sugar, divided
3 tablespoon water, room temp
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tsp finely ground orange zest
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup sifted, all-purpose flour

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Separate the eggs.

2. Put the egg-whites and the cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Whip the egg-whites at highest speed until they are foamy. Begin adding a ½ cup of sugar 2 tablespoons at a time, until all the sugar is incorporated and the egg-whites have reached soft peaks. Rub a bit of the meringue between your fingers to make sure the sugar is fully dissolved.

3. In a small mixing bowl beat the egg yolks at high speed until they are thick and lemony colored. Should take between 3-5 minutes.

4. Gradually beat in remaining ½ cup sugar, vanilla, water, orange zest and salt.

4. With a sifter gradually sift flour over the egg-white mixture (I never sift, I just sprinkle gently, mostly because I don’t own a sifter). Add the beaten yolk mixture, and gradually fold the flour and yolks into the whites.

5. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full, and bake in the pre-heated oven for 10-15 minutes (I usually bake them for 12). The cupcakes will rise a lot in the oven, and then fall as soon as you take them out. As far as I can tell this is normal.

For Mocha Syrup

½ cup confectioner’s sugar
2/3 cup water
5 teaspoons instant espresso powder
4 tablespoons cocoa powder

1. Combine everything in a heavy pot over high heat; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally

2. Remove from heat and let cool. The mixture should have thickened into a syrup.

3. Poke holes in the tops of the cupcakes with a fork. Put a spoonful of the syrup on top of each cupcake, and let it permeate the cake through the holes.

For the Mascarpone Frosting

4 egg yolks
4 Tbs sugar
½ cup marsala wine (divided, more to taste)
¼ tsp cinnamon
3 c mascarpone, softened
1 1/3 c confectioner’s sugar (more as needed)

1. Mix the egg yolks, sugar, ¼ cup of the wine, and the cinnamon in the bowl of a double boiler. Over simmering water rapidly beat the eggs until thick, foamy, and doubled in volume. It should come to about 180 degrees.

2. Remove the bowl of the double boiler from the heat. Let it come to room temperature, or, if you want to use it sooner, place the bowl in a larger pot of cool water. You need to reduce the temperature of the zabaglione before using it, or it will melt the mascarpone.

3. With a hand mixer, beat the mascarpone on medium speed until smooth. Reduce the speed to slow and add the zabaglione. Add the powdered sugar and the remaining marsala. If the frosting is not stiff enough, add more sugar, if it is not flavorful enough, add more wine. Keep alternating until you get a taste and texture you like. When I made this it was on the runny side, so I just scooped it onto the cupcakes, but it set up very nicely once refrigerated.