Monday, November 28, 2011

More Pumpkin!

Even though I did not bake these two recipes I thought I would still share the deliciousness. My birthday was on Friday so mom asked what baked goods I wanted. I asked that she make two recipes - Pumpkin Crunch and Pumpkin Muffins. Yes that may sound spoiled but it was Thanksgiving and my birthday!

The Pumpkin Crunch she found to be some what easy. My mom struggled a little with making sure the butter covered the cake mix. I discovered this recipe on the B Dubs Cafe blog. Needless to say this made for a perfect birthday cake for candles. A lot better than a turkey has some friends have suggested. Now to see if my wish comes true :)

Pumpkin crunch
1 box yellow cake mix                
1 cup melted butter or margarine1 tsp cinnamon
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin                         
½ tsp salt
1 (12 oz) can evaporated milk                          
3 large eggs (4 medium)                                   
1 ½ cup sugar 
½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
Cool whip/whipped topping or ice cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease bottom of a 9x13 pan or 2 pie dishes.  In a large bowl combine pumpkin, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and salt (instead of using cinnamon and salt, you can substitute with 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice if needed).  Pour into pan.  Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over pumpkin mixture.  Top with pecans (I have never done this since we are not nut lovers, but I think it had nuts in it the first time I tried it, so it is good either way).  Drizzle melted butter over pecans.  Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown.  (My oven cooks faster and it only took about 35-40 minutes.  Just check it after 30 minutes.  It should be brown on top.  Cool.  Serve chilled with cool whip or ice cream.

Note: After I pour the butter over top, I usually spoon the butter over parts of the dry cake mix that didn't get covered with butter to make it more evenly distributed.

Next up are the Pumpkin Muffins which I found on Tracey's Culinary Adventures. Now if you recall I made White Chocolate Cranberry cupcakes for my mom's birthday. Those cupcakes were intense so I guess this was pay back. Mom did not enjoy all the steps involved with this recipe. She only has one muffin pan and got frustrated with layering the muffin mix and cream cheese so she placed the rest of the mixture in a 8" round cake pan. I highly suggest that you try the "coffee cake" option. It was more moist than the muffins. She said the coffee cake baked for 55 minutes. Also, be prepared to be annoyed with the cream cheese mixture. Mom claims she followed the recipe but the cream cheese did not firm up enough to work with. Luckily the end result was yummy!

Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1/2 cup sugar
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-1/2-inch cubes

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 1/4 cups vegetable or canola oil

To make the filling: In a medium bowl mix the cream cheese and confectioners' sugar together until smooth. Transfer to a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a log that is about 1 1/2-inches in diameter. Wrap and transfer to the freezer for at least 2 hours (or until firm enough to cut).

To make the topping: In a medium bowl whisk together the sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add the butter and use a pastry blender to cut it in until the mixture is coarse and crumbly. Refrigerate while you make the muffin batter.

Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Line muffin pans with paper liners.

Whisk the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil until blended. With the mixer on low, gradually add the dry ingredients, beating just until incorporated.

Remove the cream cheese filling from the freezer and slice the log into 24 equal pieces. Place just enough batter in each muffin well to cover the bottom - about 1-2 tablespoons. Put one slice of the cream cheese mixture in each well on top of the batter. Divide the remaining batter among the muffin wells, covering the cream cheese filling completely. Remove the topping from the refrigerator and sprinkle evenly over the muffins.

Bake the muffins for about 20-25 minutes, or until they spring back when gently pressed in the center. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the muffins cool for 5-10 minutes before removing them to the rack to cool completely.

Makes 24 muffins

My mom said she would make the Pumpkin Crunch again but is not so sure about the muffins. Oh well! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Friday, November 18, 2011

White Chocolate Cranberry Cupcakes

Today is my mom's birthday and she loves white chocolate and cranberries. When I found this recipe I knew this would be perfect for her! However I did not consider that this recipe was going to torture me. About a week before I started freaking out that this would be too much for me to accomplish in one day. (Wednesdays are my day off) It does not help that I also planned to decorate the Thanksgiving cupcakes from my previous post in the same day. I was doubting that I could make the white chocolate cranberry mousse and wondering if it would hold up on a cupcake. But then I remembered that I have a Kitchen Aid mixer and whip cream should be effortless and was I right. I seriously poured the whipping cream in the mixing bowl, cranked up the mixer, and let that baby work it's magic. It was awesome. Also, I thought to myself that if Ms. Beantown Baker could make it happen for these cupcakes then I could too.

White Chocolate Cupcakes filled with Cranberry Sauce and Topped with Cranberry Mousse - from Baking Bites - makes 18 cupcakes- Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
4-oz white chocolate, chopped
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup plus 1 tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 325F. Line muffin pans with cupcake liners.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped white chocolate by heating it in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Stir well with a fork between each interval and cook only until the chocolate is smooth when stirred.

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by melted white chocolate and vanilla. Alternate adding in some of the milk and some of the flour mixture, starting and ending with the flour mixture. Mix until just incorporated and no streaks of flour remain.

Divide batter evenly into muffin cups.

Bake for 20-23 minutes until a tester comes out clean and the tops spring back when lightly pressed with a fingertip. Cool on a wire rack.

I opted to not fill the center with cranberry sauce. White Chocolate is a pretty intense flavor and it is in the mousse and cupcakes so skipping the filling was fine with me. I wonder now though  how it changes the overall taste. Oh well! Maybe next time...maybe.

Sadly you cannot see the cute baking cups in the picture. They are a super cute design by Wilton.

White Chocolate Cranberry Mousse - from Baking Obsession - serves 8 (or frosts 18 cupcakes) Printable Recipe

1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
6 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
Zest of 1 medium orange
1 Tbsp Grand Marnier, Triple Sec, or other orange liqueur
3 oz white chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup whipping cream

In a small saucepan, combine the cranberries, sugar and water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the mixture thickens and becomes a jam-like, about 8-10 minutes total. Strain the mixture through a fine strainer into a medium bowl, pressing hard onto the solids. Add the orange zest and liqueur, stir. Cool to room temperature.

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt the chopped white chocolate by heating it in 30 second intervals in the microwave. Stir well with a fork between each interval and cook only until the chocolate is smooth when stirred.

Whip the cream in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Fold about a third of the whipped cream into the cranberry mixture. Then fold in the melted chocolate. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream. Spoon or pipe into the serving glasses or bowls. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Cover with plastic wrap without touching the surface if refrigerate longer.

So glad I put on my big girl panties and made these cupcakes. They are yummy! I can't wait to hear my mom's reaction. I will post an update later.

Happy Birthday Mom!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thanksgiving Cupcakes

Wow was I excited about making turkey and pilgrim hat cupcakes! I think I may have mentioned before that I was born on Thanksgiving Day so I'm obsessed with all things turkey, pumpkin, pilgrim, etc. These are really easy and a good way to decorate with some of that left over Halloween candy.

I started by making chocolate cupcakes and found a recipe from one of my favorite bloggers. I think she meant to type 2/3 full because you would have some sad little cupcakes with 1/3 full wells. I froze half of the cupcakes for later...hmm still trying to decide what to use them for.

hollicakes - Chocolate Cupcakes-makes about 24

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used half regular cocoa, half dark chocolate cocoa)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with liners; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, sift together cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
2.Add the eggs, warm water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla; mix batter until smooth, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl to assure batter is well mixed.
3.Divide batter evenly among liners, filling each about one-third full (2/3 full). Bake until tops spring back when touched, about 20 minutes, rotating pan once if needed. Transfer to a wire rack; let cool completely.

Now comes the fun part...decorating!!! Lots of ideas are out there for how to create these little guys. I liked this for turkeys and this idea for the pilgrim hats. I'm not a fan of bugles or else I would have made the cornucopias that I found on the Hoosier Homemade blog. Check out their blogs for directions but below are my modified directions.

1. Frost the cupcakes with the Wilton chocolate buttercream recipe.

2. Unwrap mini Reese's cups. With Wilton Orange Sparkle Gel pipe two eyes.

3. Add a small dollop of buttercream to the back of a candy corn and place it on the Reese's cup for the nose. You probably want to wait a bit for this to dry before going on to the next step.

4. Gently place the Reese's cup at one end of the cupcake.

5. Insert desired amount of candy corns around the perimter of the cupcake in a semi circle. As you can see I went with four candy corns and my perfectionist self had to alternate with regular candy corn and the chocolate candy corn. Special...I know!

Pilgrim Hats:
1. Frost the cupcakes with Wilton buttercream tinted orange. (My frosting is really orange because I used the icing I had in the freezer from Halloween.)

2. Place a fudge stripe cookie with the chocolate side up on top of each cupcake.

3. Add a dollop of buttercream in the center of the fudge stripe so the Reese's cup will adhere.

4. Unwrap Reese's cups. Pipe a buckle with Wilton Orange Sparkle Gel on the side of a each Reese's cup. You can also outline the Reese's cup with the same gel which I decided was optional. (I was not able to pipe a small buckle so it may be better to pipe with a small tip instead of gel.)

5. Place the inverted Reese's cup on top of the fudge stripe cookie.

Remember you are working with chocolate so be careful. You don't want half melted turkey heads and hats!

My small group had a non-traditional Thanksgiving dinner and these cupcakes were festive!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Chai Latte Cupcakes

I love chai lattes! I enjoy the lattes at Starbucks, J. Christopher's, and other restaurants. When reading some of my favorite blogs I got inspired to make these cupcakes. While searching for chai tea at Trader Joes I found chai latte instant mix. Even if you don't want to bake these cupcakes I highly recommend that you head to TJs and pick up this mix!

None of the recipes I found mentioned using a mix so I had to google search and located a recipe from ole' Betty Crocker herself. Ya'll know how I feel about box cake mixes and frosting in a can. I was hesitant to try this recipe but felt it may be the only way to try out the instant Chai Latte mix. So I met Betty half way and made the frosting from scratch. And truth be told I could not find a French Vanilla mix from Ms. Crocker so I resorted to the old stand by - Duncan Hines - which is preferred by Wilton. There is even a Wilton logo on the box. I had some left over white Wilton recipe buttercream in the freezer and added 2 one ounce squares of melted white chocolate. Needless to say I was a little nervous about these cupcakes. This was my first time to add melted chocolate to frosting and there was no telling how the cupcakes were going to turn out either. From the Betty Crocker recipe I knew I had to work fast when piping. I think the chocolate reshaped my tip but that could have just been from me trying to get it out of the bag. Whoops! (No worries I reshaped it.)

How do you like this fancy photo? The frosting looks like little puffs of steam. Love it! These cupcakes are pretty mouth watering and suprisingly good for a box mix. I think the white chocolate buttercream helps. Man oh man is that stuff rich! Be ware you may have a foodgasm!


1 box Betty Crocker® SuperMoist® French vanilla cake mix
Water, vegetable oil and eggs called for on cake mix box
1 package (1.1 oz) instant chai tea latte mix (or 3 tablespoons from larger container)
Frosting (my version)

2 (1 oz) squares of white baking chocolate

1 Wilton recipe buttercream (you probably will not use the whole recipe)

New little cupcake container

Step 1: Heat oven to 350°F (325°F for dark or nonstick pans). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups.

Step 2: Make and bake cake mix as directed on box for 24 cupcakes. Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

Step 3: In medium microwavable bowl, microwave baking chips on High 30 seconds; stir until melted. If necessary, microwave 15 seconds longer. Stir until smooth; cool 5 minutes. Stir in frosting until well blended.

Step 4: Immediately spread or pipe frosting mixture on cupcakes. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Store loosely covered.

I did sprinkle a few of mine with cinnamon but failed to take a picture to share with you. You know what sprinkled cinnamon looks like, don't you? If you don't then you are going to find out when you make these scrumpcious things. Let me give you a tip though - don't use a spoon to sprinkle. It will be too much cinnamon or at least that is my opinion. I do not have a small sifter so I opted to use my fingers. Nothing wrong with getting a little messy.

Happy Baking!