Thursday, January 27, 2011

Food processor cupcakes

Yummy note: Food processor cupcakes, say what?! Yes, I said it right... Actually saw this on the Cooking Channel the other day and couldn't believe it as Nigella Lawson whipped these together in no time.. so I just had to try this recipe out.
I didn't stray away from her recipe here, as I was afraid what I'd come out with in the end. :)
Seriously, it took no time to measure and dump all the ingredients into the food processor, and in like 15 minutes, we had homemade cupcakes.

So what did I think of this recipe overall, well, I think it was good, fast, and easy. I think the cupcakes tasted best within a day or two of baking them, as I think by day 3, I had one, and it was a bit dry. So eat them sooner than later and I think you'll be fine. The frosting recipe that originally was used, was ok, it was a typical royal icing recipe, which gives you a nice crispy, almost divinity, like frosting on top, which I was hopeful that it would seal in the moistness of the cupcake, but really I didn't think that helped. I honestly think it dried out more, so maybe use your favorite frosting recipe instead of the royal icing one provided. Overall, a fun and quick recipe to do and easy for kids to help out with.

Vanilla Cupcakes:
1 stick plus 1 tablespoon soft butter
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
2-3 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

Royal Icing:
*2 large egg whites (or substitute powdered egg whites)
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice or vanilla extract

Take ingredients (eggs, milk, butter) you need out of the fridge in time to get to room temperature. Note, they say this makes a huge difference to the lightness of the cupcakes later, so I went along with that. :) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Put all of the ingredients for the cupcakes, EXCEPT for the milk into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk down the funnel, to make a smoother consistency.
Divide the mixture between a 12-bun muffin tin lined with muffin papers, and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. They should have risen and be golden on top. Let them cool a little in their tins on a rack, and then take them carefully out of the tin to cool in their papers, still on the wire rack.
Next ice with royal icing recipe or substitute with your favorite frosting. Combine the egg whites and confectioners' sugar in a medium-size mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice or vanilla extract, this will thin out the icing. Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach the right spreading consistency for the cupcakes.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pumpkin Scones

Yummy note: This year, I had made some homemade hot cocoa in a jar to give to a few girlfriends, and I wanted something tasty to go along with that for them to enjoy. I thought, what would be delicious with a cup of cocoa.. shortbread, muffins, cookies, or wait.. it hit me, a scone! I mean that was my favorite coffee shop treat when I go. Hello, a Starbucks' like pumpkin scone would hit the spot perfect! A scone also would hold up and taste nice even if I wrapped it up a day ahead of time. Actually this pumpkin scone recipe held up for about 4-5 days before they started to loose their excitement and started to go on the dry side. So I went searching for that perfect Starbucks copycat recipe as I had tried making up a scone recipe before, and well they ended up a little too dry. So no time to play around, I wanted the close to the real deal as I could. And I found this fun little site called Lattes and Life and decided that was the one, since Tiffany had blogged about these pumpkin scones, not once, but twice on her blog, so they must be good, right?! And the verdict.. Guilty, indeed, some wonderfully flavorful pumpkin scones. My dear friends that were lucky enough to get some scones, here is the "famous" recipe that I spoke of... :) I hope you take some time and bake and enjoy another batch.

Pumpkin Scones 
(like those from Starbucks but better since they are made with more love :) 

For the Scones:
2 cups all-purpose flour
7 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1/4 tsp ginger
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (or canned pumpkin)
3 tbsp half and half
1 egg
6 tbsp cold butter (cut into slices/cubes)

For Plain Frosting:
1 cup plus 1 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk

For Spiced Glaze:
1 cup plus 3 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tbsp milk
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
pinch of ginger
pinch of cloves

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices in a large bowl. Place dry ingredients and cold butter in a food processor. If you don't have a food processor, just cut in the butter with forks, as if you were making a pie crust, continue to cut in the butter until the texture starts to look a bit like cornmeal. In another bowl, mix together pumpkin, half and half, and egg with a whisk.

Fold in wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and form a ball.

Place dough onto a lightly floured surface and form into a rectangle or a circle also works ok. Just make sure the dough is about 1 inch thick and begin cutting wedges.

Bake scones for about 14-16 minutes on parchment paper or a silicon mat, until they appear done. Let them cool completely before frosting them.

For the plain frosting, mix powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Spoon onto scones and let it set up before drizzling on the spiced glaze. For the spiced glaze, mix powdered sugar, milk, and spices until all ingredients are incorporated. This will be thicker than the plain glaze. If you need to adjust consistency of the glazes, just add in more powdered sugar or milk until you achieve your frosting zen. Haha, do what you like though, I like the thicker frosting, so I went a touch on the heavier side of both, it makes for a prettier set up, plus who doesn't love more frosting??

Back to the spiced glaze, drizzle over white frosted scones. The scones are less messy to eat once the frosting has set up a bit, but hey, I'm not watching so, go ahead and enjoy it as you wish :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

doggy treats

Yummy note: Well, this is a different variety of a "yummy" treat, but I've been hearing rave reviews that the dogs have loved these treats, so it seems to be yummy to their tummies! I got this recipe out of a doggy cookbook from a coworker. I wish I wrote down the name of the book now, but I can't recall... so April, if you see this, can you note what book this was from :) thanks! Back to the treats, this was a simple dog treat recipe that doesn't involve weird ingredients to make it disgusting or expensive to make. The recipe made a lot of treats for us to share. It worked perfect for a bake sale I was helping with at work too, as people love to pamper their pooch! Plus, people said it was a nice alternative that was at the bake sale, as it helped some that didn't want to buy the sweets, but still donate to the cause. I think this recipe made about 60-80 small to mid-sized treats, which was great for some dog presents too! Hope you enjoy making treats for your 4-legged friends!

Doggy Treats
aka "Apple Kissed Peanut Butter Treats"

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 large egg
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups water
4 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
3/4 cup whole rolled oats (I didn't have rolled oats on hand, so I used old-fashioned oatmeal which worked just as fine)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine applesauce, egg, peanut butter, and water in a large bowl. Combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Mix well, and then knead dough on a lightly floured surface until thoroughly mixed.

Roll dough to about 1/8 inch thick and cut out using small cookie cutters. We used a dog bone, a heart, and some little flower shapes for size variety.

Place dough on a lightly greased cookie sheet or parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Original recipe said to bake treats for about 50 minutes and then to turn the oven off and leave biscuits in oven for about 20 minutes to harden. If you don't have enough cookie sheets to bake all your treats at once, you'll have to do it in batches. Basically keep an eye on your treats, and depending on the size, take them out to cool when they appear to be done to your liking.

* note: the original recipe said to use these treats as sandwich treats and suggested to add cream cheese to the middle of two biscuits for an even more special doggy treat. They suggested about 8 ounces of cream cheese to cover all the sandwich treats.

Alicia was very excited to help with the treats for her doggy friends. :)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Cookies-in-a-Jar Gift

Yummy note: I went to a friend's birthday party a month or so ago, and decided this would be a fun gift to give her. It would allow her to make a special treat whenever she felt like making fresh homemade cookies! The best thing about this is I used a smaller sized pint jar instead of the quart one for this recipe, which allows for a smaller batch to be made. I think it makes about a half a dozen or so of the cookie treats. Perfect amount for snacking on fresh warm cookies! This cookie-in-a-jar gift is easy to do and you can make it ahead of time for favors or gifts. Plus, it is fun to make it look pretty and cater to your special person/occasion.

3/4 cup and 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup M&Ms
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Additional supplies:
1 Pint-sized mason jar
Small scrap of fabric and ribbon to decorate
Index card or card to write directions on

Combine the flour and baking soda. Place flour and baking soda mixture in a clean pint sized glass jar, and pack firmly. Place white sugar on top of flour. Next, layer with chocolate chips and M&Ms. Cover that mixture with the brown sugar and pack firmly. Cover with the lid.

Additional directions
(write/printout on a card and attach it to your jar)
In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of butter, 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Beat until creamy. Add in jar of dry mixture and mix. Drop by tablespoonful onto an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake in a preheated 375 degrees oven for 6 to 10 minutes.