Archive for February, 2010

Almond Cakes

I am a stress baker through and through. At times when I’m already feeling overwhelmed with school and life (which is pretty much a daily event) I make time to bake (for my waistline’s sake, I resist the urge to bake every day). It’s not even always a relaxing experience to tell you the truth. Sometimes I wake up with this urge craving burning desire RESOLVE that I’m going to bake that day. Often this is after a day or two of wanting to bake but not being able to for various reasons. I have no butter. I’ve been on my feet for 12 hours straight and didn’t eat and all I want to do is curl up in a ball and cry. It’s 8pm, I just got home, I have to be up at 4, and I still have 3 hours of studying to do along with making and eating dinner. Sometimes, though, I randomly wake up and decide before I even get out of bed that today is a day for baking. And once I make that decision, it has to happen even if all those excuses I mentioned still apply. Therefore, I end up staying late and getting 5 hours of sleep because I was creaming butter and sugar instead of studying the management of diarrhea.

Does anyone else have this compulsive baking problem?

No?

Just me?

Okay then.

Yesterday was a different story. I didn’t wake up with the need to bake. I baked this past weekend, why did I need to bake again so soon? (Incidentally, they were green tea cupcakes with strawberry mascarpone filling — deliciousness. Recipe will be up after next weekend when I bake them for a friend’s sister’s baby shower.) I didn’t even have a busy day. I sat around in lectures and wasn’t particularly tired. And yet, I felt like baking.

I had spotted these Almond Cakes a little while ago and have been wanting to make them especially since I attempted to make mochi last month and had leftover glutinous flour. They were exactly what I needed. I used a mini muffin tin instead of a regularly sized one since the post mentioned that the original cakes these are modeled after were half-dollar-sized. Little bites of slightly sticky almond goodness. And so simple they were on my table and cooled in an hour. My kind of recipe.

Almond Cakes

adapted from a bird in the kitchen

Makes 18 mini-cakes or 8 (per original recipe) cakes.

Ingredients

4 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon coconut milk
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons glutinous rice flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Garnish
1 tablespoon ground almonds [I tried to use the almond meal/flour you see in the picture. Note: this did not do anything.]

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare mini-muffin/cupcake tin with non-stick cooking spray [I tried the cupcake liner thing and don’t recommend it. The cakes are so sticky that they just stuck to the liners.]

Cream together butter and sugar. Add egg, almond extract, and coconut milk. until thoroughly combined. Add rice flour and baking powder.

Divide among muffin tin. Sprinkle ground almonds over batter if using. Bake for ~ 20 minutes or until golden (original recipe has 30 minutes for regular sized cakes). Remove from muffin tin immediately and let cool to room temperature before serving.

Bon appetito!

– Sharlene

Banana Chai Cupcakes

Whenever I make something, anything, Boy’s the first (and sometimes the only) taste-tester. Part of it is obligation, I’m sure. Somewhere in that rulebook of relationships I’m sure it says something about trying every creation your Other makes without regard to how fat it will make you, how much you hate the idea of carrots, or how you’re already so full the thought of another bite makes you queasy.

(Incidentally, I throw the relationship rulebook card out there quite often. It contains other rules such as: Don’t go to the gym too much more often than your Other for they will feel whale-sized and Once the proper amount of facial scruff has been identified adhere to such guidelines for all date-like events especially when they involve your Other’s closest friends and Always order dessert even if you’re full because your Other is too embarrassed to order that molten chocolate something-or-other by herself. And yes, 75% of rules in the rulebook involve food or the aftermath of food. That’s just how the world works.)

Anyway..

Boy’s become quite the taste-tester. He used to strictly adhere to the Only say positive things when she asks ‘how do I look’ or ‘how does this taste’ or ‘can we watch Millionaire Matchmaker’ but now he has evolved into giving his opinion every time – positive or negative, but always in a I’m still scared of you so I’m saying this in the nicest way possible way. (He legitimately likes watching Millionaire Matchmaker though. Completely hooked.) So when I made these cupcakes for him in an impromptu birthday surprise and he sang their praises, I knew I had done well. He had an exam that week and was too stressed to do much beyond studying but the cupcakes were a welcome treat. He even asked, “Do I have to share these [with my 3 male roommates who will surely gobble them up before I get home tomorrow]?” Obviously I told him he could do with them as he pleased. Said cupcakes remained holed up in his room for the remainder of their lives which was not very long at all.

So when a friend asked if I’d help her bake for her sister’s wedding shower, I knew I wanted her to try these and made them this past weekend. Win number two. They’ll be perfect for the shower.

Banana Chai Cupcakes

from Only Creative Opportunities

Makes 24.

Ingredients

3 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. McCormick’s chai spice blend
3/4 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 4-ounce jar banana baby food
3 small bananas, chopped

Frosting:
1 1/4 c. light brown sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. powdered sugar
2 8-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
1/2 c. unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F.

[I halved the recipe this past weekend but the full recipe is posted.]

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and chai spice and set aside. Cream the butter, white, and brown sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl between each addition. Add the vanilla, buttermilk, and baby food. Stir in the dry ingredients and fold in the chopped banana.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool the cupcakes for five minutes in the tin, then remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Wait in anticipation and make the frosting!

Whisk together the brown sugar, cornstarch, and powdered sugar, then set aside. In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and butter until fluffy. Add the sugar mixture and vanilla. Continue beating until frosting is desired consistency, chilling in refrigerator if necessary.

I just garnished it with some brown sugar for kicks. Delicious!

– Sharlene

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Sometime last year when I started getting on the cupcake bandwagon, Boy asked me for Tiramisu Cupcakes. (Did he know these existed? Was he trying to send me on an impossible adventure so I’d stop bugging him for ideas? Does he just like pronouncing the word tier-uh-MEE-su? Who knows.) Months later, I came across this recipe and HAD to make them. He gobbled them up, as did friends in Philadelphia we visited later that day.

They’re delicious.

Tiramisu Cupcakes

Recipe adapted from i♥cuppycakes
[who adapted it from  Baking: From My Home To Yours, Dorie Greenspan]

Makes 20.

Ingredients

2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
10 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk [I used 2% milk I had in the fridge, just under 3/4 cup and then topped it off with white vinegar.]

Espresso extract:
2 tbsp instant espresso powder
2 tbsp boiling water

Espresso syrup:
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp Kahlua

Frosting:
8 oz mascarpone [look for this in the specialty cheese area, usually by the mozzarella]
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp Kahlua
1/2 cup cold cream [original called for 1 cup but i♥cuppycakes indicated that she liked the frosting better before the whipped cream so I halved it to increase the volume of the frosting but keep the mascarpone flava]

Decor
finely chopped chocolate
cocoa powder

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350F.

Cake:

Sift cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

With a hand/stand mixer, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and mix to combine. Add eggs one at a time, beating for about 1 minute after each addition. Add vanilla.

Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture. Mix until flour is just incorporated into batter.

Fill cupcake liners about 1/2-2/3 full and bake ~17-20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack.

While the cupcakes are baking, assemble the rest of the fun stuff!

Espresso extract:
Stir espresso powder and boiling water together until blended.

Espresso syrup:
In a small saucepan, combine water and sugar together and bring just to a boil. Pour syrup into small bowl and stir in 1 tbsp of espresso extract and add Kahlua.

Frosting:
Combine the mascarpone, sugar, vanilla and Kahlua in a large bowl and whisk until smooth. Whip the heavy cream until it hold stiff peaks in a separate bowl. Using a spatula, stir in about 1/4 of whipped cream into mascarpone mixture. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream with a soft touch. Add espresso syrup to frosting to taste. (If frosting is too soft to pipe, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes or until frosting is good to go.)

Final product:
Poke holes in cupcakes with a toothpick. Spoon about 1-2 tsp of espresso syrup over each cupcake. (Do this slowly to let it soak in before adding more lest you get syrup all over the place.) Frost and top with cocoa powder and chopped chocolate.

Yummy!!

– Sharlene

Hello world!

I’ve been wanting to start something for a few months now, encouraged mainly by the obscene amounts of baked goods I’ve been making to quell the fat girl inside of me offset the winter blues and the fact that Boy is being uber-supportive. However, wanting to do something and actually doing it have become more and more mutually exclusive ideas as time goes on. Attribute that to medical school. And the depression of working on a psychiatric inpatient unit for 3 weeks in January, which is coincidentally peak Seasonal Affective Disorder season. So this little project was put on the backburner.

Until today.

When after a little spat this morning, Boy made me an omelette  and delivered it to the door looking like THAT, I needed to take a picture and show the entire world (ie the 4 – that’s wishful thinking  already – people who’ll read this) how cute eggs can be. And how delicious – there’s an awesome pile of cheddar right between Eggie’s eyes.

He knows me so well.

– Sharlene