Friday, April 29, 2011

brownie cookies with chocolate chip cookie dough filling

I was asked to make fancy treats for a trade show. I posted about lemon truffles a little while back, these made the cut, and I'm sending custom colored marshmallows, because, who doesn't need a hit of pure sugar while standing around trying to sell things at a trade show. Pop one of those in your mouth, and you're good to go! But I wouldn't call these treats fancy. Neither are these brownie cookie dough sandwiches, but they are certainly over the top. So they are rounding out my little sugar care package. I hope the ladies like them!

Making them I remembered why cookies are not my favorite thing to bake - a thing my husband knows only too well. I rarely make them, and he always craves cookies. I only have one good baking sheet. So that means, 12 cookies at a time if i'm lucky, more often just 9. And they have to cool on the baking sheet a bit, so I can't just put another batch in the oven. And the baking sheet has to cool to prevent spreading. So for this recipe, 5 batches, at 10 minutes each, then a cooling time of 5 minutes, and an extra 5 minutes to let the sheet cool down, is almost two hours of baking cookies! And just as my last batch was finishing baking, we had a power outage... I lost my oven timer so I didn't know when to take them out, or if my gas oven was even still on... Yeah, I left them in too long. They were definitely on the crispy side of things. Good thing they were the last 7!

brownie cookies with chocolate chip cookie dough filling
recipe source: Heat oven to 350

Brownie Cookie:

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup white sugar
3/4 packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar and white sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and then the eggs one at a time, beating well with each addition. Combine the salt, cocoa, flour, baking powder and baking soda and gradually stir into the creamed mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1 tbsp sized balls and place on a baking sheet. Flatten cookies slightly with the bottom of a drinking glass or your palm.

4. Bake 8-10 minutes or until the cookies are puffy and the tops are cracked, but still soft. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Cookie Dough Filling:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 1/2 cups flour
1 13 oz container marshmallow creme
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

1. With an electric mixer, cream butter until fluffy. Add sugar and beat well. Add flour and beat until all the flour is incorporated. Add remaining ingredients and beat until mixture is smooth. (It will be fairly thick).

Assembling the sandwiches:

1. Scoop about 1 tbsp of filling onto to bottom of a cooled cookie. Top with another cookie and eat.

Yield: About 24 medium cookie sandwiches.

The cookies had a really strong cocoa taste, and definitely reminded me of brownies. The texture was just right. Strong enough to sandwich the filling, but soft and tender when you bit into them. This recipe is a keeper! Roll the dough balls into sugar, and you have great chocolate sugar cookies.

Although the filling was really good, it didn't scream chocolate chip cookie dough. And I might of messed with it a bit. I've never seen more than one size containers of marshmallow fluff, so I just bought the one jar, but I realized too late that I should of put closer to two jars in the filling recipe. I added light corn syrup to try to get a better consistency. I thought of adding sweetened condensed milk instead, but decided that having an open can of eagle brand near me was bad for my health, so decided to go with the corn syrup. Maybe a better option would be a modified version of cookie dough truffles for the filling?

I wouldn't want these cookies any bigger. If I had a smaller cookie scoop, I would have made them a bit smaller. Let's just say that you're not going to eat the whole tray of these in one sitting! Have a glass of milk handy!

In any case, I'm sure they'll be enjoyed, as the ones we kept disappeared fairly quickly! 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

maple mousse in french toast cupcakes

Last month, I spent countless hours trying to conjure up creative fillings for the meringue filled coffee cake we were challenged with at the Daring Kitchen. This month, it was edible containers. Possibilities I had going through my mind: Waffle cones, eclairs, popovers, banana bread...

The April 2011 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Evelyne of the blog Cheap Ethnic Eatz. Evelyne chose to challenge everyone to make a maple mousse in an edible container. Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 27th to May 27th at!

Since Evelyne is from Montreal, and this is April, I had a pretty good idea that she would challenge us with maple syrup. I can image the headaches that caused for some of my fellow Daring Bakers, since maple syrup - the real thing - is not easily found in all areas of the world, and if it is, it's terribly expensive! Luckily for me, maple syrup is produced right here. And it's pretty darn good maple syrup! I went shopping for inspiration.

And look at the goodies I found. Most of them I've previously picked up and put right back on the shelf because I couldn't justify the expense. But for the challenge? Anything goes! And my mom surprised me by paying for my bill on top of hers! Merci mom! So we've got maple syrup in cute touristy mini plastic jugs, maple syrup in a nice clear bottle (2011 syrup! Score!), maple syrup in a can that I probably bought on special at my local pharmacy (yes, the pharmacy sells maple syrup...), maple sugar that's crazy expensive, maple butter that's 100% pure maple syrup (no clue how to get that texture, but boy is it ever creamy! So good!), maple jelly!!! (I know, that was a first for me, and it's incredible. And expensive.), and soft maple candies. I bought a maple lollipop too, but Cha got a hold of it before I could hide it...

I'm so ready for this challenge!

So I stuck with the mousse recipe we were given. Boil maple syrup, temper egg yolks, bloom gelatine in some cream, dissolve gelatine, combine with syrup and eggs, let thicken while whisking once in a while. Whip remaining cream, lighten maple syrup mixture with some of it, then fold in the rest. Chill

Maple Mousse

1 cup pure maple syrup
4 large egg yolks
1 package (7g/1 tbsp.) unflavoured gelatine
1 1/2 cups whipping cream (35% fat content)

Bring maple syrup to a boil then remove from heat.

In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and pour a little bit of the maple syrup in while whisking (this is to temper your egg yolks so they don’t curdle). When mixture is warm, add remaining hot maple syrup while whisking.

Measure 1/4 cup of whipping cream in a bowl and sprinkle it with the gelatine. Let it rest for 5 minutes. Place the bowl in a microwave for 45 seconds (microwave for 10 seconds at a time and check it in between) or place the bowl in a pan of barely simmering water, stir to ensure the gelatine has completely dissolved.

Whisk the gelatine/whipping cream mixture into the maple syrup mixture and set aside.

Whisk occasionally for approximately an hour or until the mixture has the consistency of an unbeaten raw egg white.

Whip the remaining cream. Stir 1/4 of the whipped cream into the maple syrup mixture. Fold in the remaining cream and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Remove from the fridge and divide equally among your edible containers.

For my edible container, I chose a french toast cupcake. A good while ago, Food Network Magazine had put a french toast cupcake with maple frosting and a slice of bacon on the cover of their magazine. I didn't make it then, but I thought that now would be the perfect opportunity. But when I looked at the recipe, I didn't have a lot of the ingredients, so I found another recipe that I had bookmarked around the same time. I blogged about them earlier this month, when I actually made the challenge.

And I topped the finished product with bacon that I cooked in maple syrup, and a maple candy or maple sugar.

Very simple, but super tasty! The bacon is an absolute must to counter the super sweet mousse, and I love the chewy texture it brings to the dessert.

Monday, April 25, 2011

easter sugar cookies

We were heading to the cottage Easter weekend, but had a bunch of stuff lined up too. My in-laws were moving and Cha had her last dance class on Saturday morning. My SIL was also having an Easter brunch on Sunday, but it became clear that there was no way we were going to make it back for brunch if we went to the cottage. It is a 3 hour drive after all.

We were going back and forth all week trying to decide if we were leaving on Friday or Saturday. We finally decided to skip dance class, leave on the Friday, and kinda told Cha last minute so that she wouldn't ask us when we were going for days on end. The plan was for my husband to help his parents pack and move in the morning, and then leave after lunch so the girls would sleep in the car on the way there. The packing and moving took longer than expected, so I had to tell Cha we would leave the next day, and  not when Daddy got home like I had said.

It did not go over very well. There were tears. Lots of tears, and screaming, and crying. She was not a happy camper. Long story short, I had not intended to make Easter cookies, but I had to distract the crying child, so yeah, I broke out the cookie cutters, and the icing sugar, and the food color... Even the sprinkles!

And it was fun! She made a huge mess of her cookies, and I got to have fun decorating mine, and most important of all - no more crying! She actually said that she was to busy to leave for the cottage and we would leave after her dodo. Score!

I used this recipe to make the cookies, and the Wilton recipe for the royal icing, adding way more water than what the recipe calls for so that the icing consistency is that of soft toothpaste. Yeah, that sounds yummy allright!

My cookies weren't as good as the last time I made them, but i'm pretty sure it's because I added to much flour. I also had to use some plain yogurt because I was short on sour cream. They were still delicious, but not as soft as I like them.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

baked new york style crumb cake

For this edition of Baked Sunday Mornings, we made a New York Style Crumb Cake featured on page 43 of Baked's latest cookbook. I hear they are testing recipes for a third one... can't wait!

I was considering baking this recipe into muffins, and then into 2 square pans so I could share one, but I decided to stick to the 9 by 13 pan, not knowing how the cake would hold up underneath all these "crumbs". The author actually referred to them as boulders...

The topping was easy enough to make. Didn't even have to cut butter into dry ingredients. Basically mix sugars, salt and cinnamon together, add melted butter (a whole cup!) and fold in flour. I finished "folding in" the flour with my hands and basically formed the crumbs at that point in the recipe.

The batter comes together easily too: cream butter, add sugar and mix until fluffy, add eggs, the sour cream and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients. Spread into a pan, and top with "crumbs". 

I was happy to see that the batter was quite foolproof. As usual, I forgot to take my ingredients out of the fridge to let them come to room temperature except for the butter). So I added cold eggs and sour cream to my creamed butter and sugar without too much damage.

It bakes for quite a while - mine took 55 minutes. And you have to rotate the pan 3 times. Not sure why, but I did it anyways.

It smelled really good while baking, and I was happy to realized that I had just made a sour cream coffee cake! They can call it whatever they want, but that's what it is. The flavor was really good, the cake being vanilla-y and the topping cinnamon-y. Texture of the cake was nice and moist and the topping was crunchy, crumbly, with the bigger pieces being a bit hard. I'm glad I made my crumbs on the smaller side. I'm not a big fan of crumbs in general, but they really added to the cake.

It makes a lot of cake! So I brought it to the cottage to share, and 4 days later, it was still very yummy. It kept surprisingly well. I'm glad I made this recipe, and will be trying it in muffin form, with tall liners to help contain the crumbs!

Thanks to the Baked Sunday Mornings bakers for encouraging me to make this one. See how they fared here!

The recipe can be found here!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

peeps rice krispies squares

Yeah, I know the blog isn't even 3 months old and this is the second rice krispies square post... But everyone loves rice krispies! And how cute are these for Easter? When I saw them here and here, I  just couldn't not make them for Cha's classmates.

I went crazy the other day at the grocery store and bought 3 boxes of vanilla flavored rice krispies, so this used up one box, two to go. I didn't add any vanilla extract and they were definitely vanilla-y enough. I also added some fruit flavored mini marshmallows. I thought they added a nice easter color touch. And sprinkles. I can't send a treat to school that doesn't have sprinkles on it... The recipe can be found on the box, or here... I made them in a 9x13 pan, and I though they were still pretty thick, especially once you added on the peeps. They were cut using kitchen shears and they just bounce back into shape. Just sandwich the rice krispies treat between the two halves of the bunny.

For Cha's classmates, I put the treats on a stick, wrapped it up in a clear treat bag and tied it with a pink ribbon. Too bad I ran out of ink, because I had cute tags in mind too... And of course, I was too lazy to take out the camera before I gave the pretty ones away! Oh well! Happy long weekend!

Friday, April 15, 2011

compost cookies for earth day

I know I'm kinda late jumping on the compost cookie bandwagon, but they've been all over the internet, and when I was trying to think of something to make for earth day, compost cookies seemed like the natural thing to bake. Because of the name, not because they are any good for the planet or anything like that, so earth day, perfect time to make compost cookies!

I'm scared of bugs, and... nature basically, so I don't compost. I think I would if there was a city run program where they collect the bins of compostable material and they would compost it for me, but if it means collecting my trash and adding it to a pile of trash in my backyard that I have to turn over a few times a year and add brown compost or something to it, uh. no. I'm not doing that.

But I'll gladly add a bunch of yummy snack food to a cookie dough to make compost cookies. I read Momofuku's book a while back, and although I'd like to eat some of what they make at the restaurants, the cooking style is not really for me. Their recipes are really interesting... and complicated! Even the baking ones I found on the web. They are really out there, and seem awesome! The crack pie, the cereal milk ice cream, the chocolate malt cake... They seem like a lot of work with a lot of components, so I think the cookie is a good place to start... Even that recipe has had mixed reviews from bloggers who've tried it. They come out super flat for most people.

I thought of just using my regular cookie dough and adding a bunch of stuff to it, but decided to try the milk bar recipe, even if it was doomed to fail. So beat butter and sugars, add eggs and beat for 10 minutes. Yeah. 10 minutes. Add dry ingredients, now make sure you don't over beat. 10 minutes was enough! Mix in a bunch of baking stuff and snack food. Portion out. Chill. Bake. Enjoy.

Momofuku Milk Bar's Compost Cookies Recipe
Adapted from the recipe that used to be available on the Live! with Regis & Kelly website
Yield: 40 cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 cups baking ingredients (1/2 cup chocolate chips, 1/4 cup skor bits, 1/2 cup oats, 1/4 cup graham crumbs)
1 1/2 cups snack foods (3/4 cup pretzels, 1/2 cup potato chips, 1/4 cup dark chocolate covered coffee beans)

1. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
2. On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size.
3. When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 45-60 sec just until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Do not walk away from the mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
4. On same low speed, add in the baking ingredients and mix for 30-45 sec until they evenly mix into the dough. Add in the snack foods last, paddling again on low speed until they are just incorporated.
5. Using an ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheet pan.
6. Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 week.
7. DO NOT BAKE the cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.
8. Heat the conventional oven to 400F.
9. When the oven reads 400F, arrange the chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or silpat-lined sheet pan a minimum of 4" apart in any direction.
10. Bake 9-11 min. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.
11. At 9 min the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don't match up and your cookies stills seem pale and doughy on the surface.
12. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh 5 days. In the freezer, cookies will keep fresh 1 month.

The cookie dough came together really nicely. Chopping up the add-ins took some time, and since I was eye balling the quantities, when I added them in the batter, I found I was short about 1/2 cup of stuff, so I added in more oats to make up a full 3 cups.

I used my 2-3 tbsp cookie scoop to portion them, and I think they were the perfect size. In my oven, they took 10 minutes. I thought I had under-baked my first batch because I split one open the minute they were out of the oven and it was still raw in the middle, but while the rest of them cooled on the baking sheet, I guess they finished cooking, because they were perfect.

Because of the reviews I read, I was scared of the spreading factor, but baking 9 on my baking sheet was perfect. And although they are thinner than say, my regular chocolate chip cookies, they were not crisp. Nice and chewy, not crumbly. A very nice texture actually. I'm happy I tried this recipe.

I'm glad I didn't add more chips or pretzels because they were salty enough. I found they were really good, my parents loved them, Mme Sophie liked the coffee in them, but my husband though they were too salty (they were really salty...). These cookies are definitely more for grown ups than for kids, especially with the addition of the chocolate covered coffee beans, but it didn't stop my daughter from eating them. As if she needs the caffeine...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

carrot coconut scones for baked sunday mornings

I’m so happy I got to participate in this edition of Baked Sunday Mornings. I really wanted to two weeks ago, but the recipe wasn’t for us then. Wasn’t sure it was going to be this time around either, but at least scones are a bit less involved than a four component tart! Let’s just say that whenever I read the Baked cookbook cover to cover one night, the Carrot Coconut Scones were not on top of my to bake list. Kinda of a weird combo I thought. But scones are easy, so I thought I’d try it anyways. And I was happy to see that the recipe called for carrot purée instead of grated carrots. If the recipe didn’t turn out, at least I was going to have leftover purée for the baby.

The recipe came together quickly, especially since I took a shortcut and made the entire recipe in the food processor. Basically, you pulse together the dry ingredients, add the cubed butter and pulse until the butter is cut into small pieces and incorporated in the flour mixture, add the dry ingredients, pulse until the dough comes together, and then shape into a round. I divided the dough into two rounds, and cut 8 scones out of each round. Brush on an egg white wash, and bake for 18 minutes.

While it was cooking, Cha said it smelled like eggs, butter and honey. I’ll trust her nose, since I can’t trust mine. I was kinda disappointed by the color of them when they came out of the oven, but I was going to cover it with a glaze anyway, so I didn’t dwell on it too much.

The glaze was powdered sugar, orange and lemon juice. Simple.

I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. It was really good. I think the most dominant flavors came from the glaze, but the texture of the scone was very good. It wasn't dry, or oily, or heavy or anything. My husband said that it wasn't as cakey as he would of though, and more like a scone (!). Not sure what that meant, but he said it was a good thing. I was sure my daughter would have liked the glaze in particular, since she loves lemon, but that's what she didn't like about it.

Would I make it again? Probably not, since it's not a flavor profile I regularly crave, but I'm glad I made it, if only because it's a chocolate-free, peanut and nut free snack that I'm allowed to send to school. And I got baby purée out of it. Score!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

french toast cupcakes

Maple season is in full bloom here. And with so many maple products available, I just had to find a way to showcase them. That's how these French toast cupcakes were born. All the flavors of one of my favorite breakfast treat, in cupcake form. What's not to love?

These were fabulous, plain out of the oven, plain from the cooling rack, and topped with delicious maple toppings. Left one was topped with maple butter. This was my first time trying 100% pure maple syrup maple butter. It's delicious! Nothing like the map-o-spread from my childhood. (Vivid memories of my first babysitter right now, who used to give me a jar of that stuff once in a while. I was 3.) The second one was dipped in maple sugar. Crunchy goodness. And the third is maple jelly. Yep. Maple jelly. Ingredients list is Maple syrup, agar agar. The texture and mouth-feel really allow the maple flavor to come through and linger. Amazing stuff. Too bad everything 100% pure maple is so expensive. I should grow maple trees.

And this cupcake recipe was amazing. The crumb is perfect! Taste is super. Very good, but a bit of a pain to make. You have to cream the butter and sugar, add egg yolks, alternate dry and liquid ingredients. Then you have to whisk the whites to stiff peaks, and fold them in. A lot of bowls for cupcakes. But they're worth it. Just plain they're worth it. With toppings? Oh boy!

French Toast Cupcakes
recipe adapted from Life with cake

3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), at room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature, separated
1 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup milk, at room temperature
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F. Line the muffin pan with paper cupcake liners.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar on low speed until just blended. Raise the speed to high and mix until light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. (Occasionally turn the mixer off, and scrape the sides of the bowl down with a rubber spatula.)

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the milk and vanilla, and also set aside.

Add the egg yolks to the creamed butter one at time, waiting for each one to be fully incorporated before adding the next.

Reduce the speed of the mixer to low. Alternately, add the flour mixture in 3 additions and the milk in 2 additions, waiting for each to be fully incorporated before adding the next (scrape the bowl down occasionally). Raise the speed to medium and mix briefly until a smooth batter is formed. 

Using a clean bowl and a hand mixer, whip the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks are formed.

Mix a 1/4 of the egg whites in the batter, and using a rubber spatula, fold the rest of the egg whites into the batter, until just incorporated. Divide the batter evenly among the cups in the muffin pan. Bake, rotating the pan once, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 30 minutes. (My mini cupcakes took just 12 minutes, and jumbo ones, 23 minutes.)

So what's it going to be? Plain, maple butter, maple sugar, maple jelly? Or do you prefer your French toast cupcakes sprinkled with powdered sugar?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

white chocolate lemon truffles

Making this recipe, I was instantly brought back to the Easters of my childhood. After I stopped believing in the Easter bunny that is. I used to request a white chocolate treat instead of the waxy chocolate one. I was a snob back then too I guess. And chopping the white chocolate for these white chocolate lemon truffles instantly reminded me of the smell you get hit with when you open the package of one of these white chocolate bunnies. Instant trip down memory lane.

Why is there a paper purse in the picture? This recipe is a trial run for treats that were requested by a friend who sells purses, jewelery, fashion accessories at home parties. She's meeting the founders her company and wants to bring them something sweet. So I was playing with packaging options for these truffles. Cute, no?

I had bookmarked this recipe last year around Easter time, and of course, like most of the recipes I bookmark, never had the opportunity to make.

White Chocolate Lemon Truffles
recipe adapted from Kitchen Simplicity

6 oz. (1 cup) white chocolate, chopped
5 Tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
3 Tbsp heavy cream
pinch salt
1 1/2 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp lemon zest (optional)
2 drops yellow food color (optional)
icing sugar, for dusting

Melt chocolate, butter and cream over a double boiler. Stir until smooth.
Stir in salt, extract, zest and food color. Allow to cool slightly before covering with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours or until firm enough to handle. (My mixture was still sticky, but nothing a dip in icing sugar couldn't fix.) With a melon baller or small spoon scoop out mixture and form into 1 inch balls. Toss with icing sugar to coat. Store covered in the fridge for up to one week. Freeze for longer storage.

Makes: 24

Saturday, April 2, 2011

alton's red velvet cupcakes

My Sister-In-Law asked me to bake red velvet cupcakes for her friend's birthday this weekend. Apparently, she adores red velvet cupcakes, and since my SIL is not a baker, I happily obliged. The pressure is on!

My last foray into the red velvet world didn't amaze me, so I thought this was the perfect opportunity to try out a new recipe. An Alton Brown recipe! Alton has never steered me wrong. I don't know why I didn't try his recipe the first few times I tried red velvet. The recipe has 6 reviews, all positives, and 5 stars. Since Red Velvet is a southern thing, I looked at Paula Deans' recipe too, with its 719 reviews and 4 stars, but the cup and a half of vegetable oil kinda turned me off. Sorry Paula!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
recipe source: Alton Brown via modified for cupcakes
makes 18 standard size cupcakes

5 1/2 ounces all-purpose flour
4 ounces cake flour
1/2 ounce natural cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup low-fat buttermilk, room temperature
1 fluid ounce red liquid food coloring
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 1/2 ounces dark brown sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
2 whole eggs, room temperature


Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Whisk the flours, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Whisk the buttermilk, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla together in a small bowl and set aside.

Combine the brown sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and cream on medium speed until lightened in color, 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Return the mixer to medium speed and slowly add the eggs and beat until they are fully incorporated.

With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture in 3 installments, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl between each installment. Mix on low speed until smooth, 30 to 45 seconds.

Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake until the cake springs back when pressed or reaches an internal temperature of 205 degrees F, 20 to 25 minutes.

Cool in the pans on a rack for 10 minutes, and then remove the cupcakes from the pans and cool completely, about 1 hour, before frosting.

I've been having really bad luck with frosting lately, so for this one, I'm using a whoopie pie filling recipe from the Baked guys. I could eat that stuff with a spoon and I've never messed it up, so I've decided it's my new go-to cream cheese frosting recipe.

Cream cheese frosting
recipe source: Baked via Martha Stewart

3 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Sift confectioner' sugar into a medium bowl; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until well combined. Add confectioners' sugar and vanilla, beat just until smooth.

These cupcakes were delicious! Good flavor and color, very moist and tender without being oily or greasy. I think we found a winner. Thank you Alton! And the frosting, as expected, was super! I wasn't a big fan of all those nonpareils that I covered the icing with, but if you like a bit a crunch, they make the cupcakes pretty. And so easy to frost! I just plopped a 2 tbsp scoop of icing on top of the cupcake, pressed it down with a spoon to make sure it was going to stay on, dipped it in a bowl of nonpareils, and that was that!