Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Pumpkin Beer Cupcakes

Pumpkin Ale Cupcakes 
With Cream Cheese Frosting

These boozy babes first appeared here on HelloGiggles.com

It's Fall, Y'all!!!

Have Mercy! 

What you’ll need! 

• 2 ¾ cups sifted cake flour, half all-purpose, half cake (I proportioned it 1 ¼ Cake Flour and 1 ½ all purpose)

• 4 teaspoons baking powder

• 1/4 teaspoon salt, just a tad less is good.

• 3 eggs

• 1 ½ cups sugar

• About 14 oz of pumpkin puree, I used about 3/4 of a 16 oz can of pumpkin puree

• 1/4 cup milk

• 3/4 cup pumpkin ale

• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

• Fall spices: 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ teaspoon cardamom, ½ teaspoon clove, ½ teaspoon nutmeg

Let’s get baking … 

Combine dry ingredients and spices, set aside.

Combine milk and pumpkin ale in one bowl, set aside.

Cream sugar and eggs. Blend in extract. Mix in Pumpkin. Add dry ingredients alternating with milk/ale mixture.

Stir until combined, try not to over mix.

Bake in lined muffin pan for about 20 minutes at 350 F.

Now for the cream cheese frosting … 

• 1/2 cup butter, one stick, softened

• 4 oz. cream cheese

• 1 tbs almond extract, vanilla is OK

• 2 cups powdered sugar

Mix it all together!

Cheers!

Photos by Robert Giglio

Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Cake that's Out of this World!!!

A couple week's ago, my boyfriend's company asked me to bake a cake for an office party. It couldn't be an ordinary cake, it had to be out of this world ... 

I'm not sure that I've mentioned it before, but my super smart boyfriend works for a technology startup competing for the Google Lunar X Prize ... Basically, they are building a rover to land on the moon. 

Can you guess where I'm going with this?

I baked a moon cake.


Moon Cake 
Make two cakes. I made two white cakes from scratch with my grandmother's confetti cake recipe, sans sprinkles ...

 2 ¾ cups sifted cake flour, half all-purpose, half cake (I proportioned it 1 ¼ Cake Flour and 1 ½ all purpose)
4 teaspoons baking powder, just a tad less is good. Do Not Exceed 4 teaspoons
½  teaspoon salt, just a tad less is good. Do Not Exceed ½ teaspoon
4 egg whites
½  teaspoon cream of tartar
1 ½  cups sugar ( ¾ cup granulated half white, ¾ cup confectioners sugar)
¾ cup butter, softened
1 cup milk (maybe more or less depending on softness or hardness of batter at the end, I used the whole cup)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract (I used my secret ingredient arak, if you use 1 tsp arak, still include ½ tsp almond extract)

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat egg whites until foamy with cream of tartar. Gradually add ¼ cup granulated sugar and ¼ cup confectioners sugar.
In a separate bowl, cream butter and add remaining 1 cup sugar.  Blend egg mixture into this bowl.
Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk a small amount at a time – this is where you see if you use all the milk.
Pour in extracts.
Bake at 350 degrees F. A regular sheet cake or cupcakes would bake at around 20 minutes — my half sphere cake baked at about 50 minutes.

I baked the first cake in a well-greased eight-inch glass bowl.  
The second cake was baked in an eight-inch circular cake pan. 
Allow cakes to thoroughly cool. 

You may need to cut dark areas off the sphere cake, as it takes nearly double the expected amount of time to bake in a bowl. Do not go cutting happy. I simply rubbed the exterior of the cake gently and let the over-baked dusting fall off. 

Now for the buttercream frosting ...
This recipe.

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks = 1/2 pound), softened (not melted)
3 cups + 1 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar, sifted (regular won't ruin it).  The +1 cup is ready to use only if the mixture needs thickening.
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon flavoring extract (Arak; but since it is scarce almond or vanilla can work)*
2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons milk.  The +2 tablespoons are ready to use only if the mixture needs thinning.
Electric Mixer

Grab your cake board. 

Before you assemble the cakes, this step must be completed on the surface on which you are serving the cake! Once the sphere shape is made and held together with frosting, you will not be able to move the cake. See the gold cardboard cake board I used in the photo above. These boards are great because they can be wiped clean at the end. 

Once the cakes have cooled, apply buttercream frosting on the circular cake and place the half sphere atop. Apply a layer of buttercream around the outside of the cake, really getting in the grooves to attach the two cakes together. 

Roll out marzipan from a can or tube, I used two 11 oz. cans ... 

What is marzipan? Almond paste.
When rolled out, marzipan is a similar sheet texture to fondant.  I prefer the almond flavor of marzipan to fondant when sculpting and shaping baked goods.
I covered the cake in the rolled out, quarter inch thick marzipan. 

Decorate ...

To decorate the cake I used:
- Black spray mist food coloring
- Grey buttercream (done with food coloring) to delicately brush on small swirls and add dimension
- Silver sprinkles ... a lot of silver sprinkles
- Loose rock candy
- An American flag toothpick is a great moon topper. The other toothpick flag is a logo for my boyfriend's company. 

I also gently manipulated the marzipan to form craters. 

Feel free to get creative with your moon design! 





Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Honey Bourbon Cupcakes

Honey Bourbon Cupcakes As seen on HelloGiggles.com

This recipe was first posted on HelloGiggles as part of my Cupcake Girl column.

Something delicious is abuzz!!!


Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour (3/4 all-purpose flour, 3/4 cake flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1 teaspoon cream of tartar—I used milk and tartar)
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp vanilla
1 tbs bourbon per cupcake
The Steps:

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.

In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugar. Blend eggs, extract and honey into this bowl.

Add sifted ingredients alternately with milk, a small amount at a time.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.

Allow cake to cool for 10 minutes.

Make about 8 holes in the cupcakes, poking the tops with a fork. Now, use the bourbon you set aside to drizzle over the tops of the cupcakes. Use about 1 tablespoon per cupcake.

Now for the Honey Bourbon frosting:

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2-3 cups powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3½ tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon bourbon, or to taste
Mix it up. (If icing is too runny, add more sugar. If too thick, add a splash of milk.)

Apply frosting.
Cheers! 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

White Russian Cupcakes *The Cupcake Abides*

White Russian Cupcakes
As seen on HelloGiggles.com


This recipe was first posted on HelloGiggles as part of my Cupcake Girl column.

Photo by Robert Giglio
What you’ll need 

•   2 ¾ cups sifted flour (1 ¼ cups cake flour and 1 ½ cups all purpose flour)

•   3 ½ teaspoons baking powder, just a tad less is good.

•   1/2  teaspoon salt, just a tad less is good.

•   4 egg whites

•   1/2  teaspoon cream of tartar

•   1 ½  cups sugar ( ¾ cup granulated, ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar)

•   3/4 cup butter, softened

•   1/4  cup milk

•   1/4 cup vodka

•   1/2  cup Kahlua

•   1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.  Beat egg whites until foamy with cream of tartar. In a separate bowl, cream butter and add sugar.  Blend egg mixture into this bowl. Combine milk, Kahlua and vodka, set aside. Add dry ingredients alternately with milk mixture, a small amount at a time. Blend in extract. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Allow cupcakes to cool.


Now for the Kahlua buttercream frosting!

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

2-3 cups powdered sugar, by taste/texture

¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon Kahlua, or Kahlua to taste

Mix it up! Frost cupcakes and garnish with cocoa powder. 

Cheers!!! 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

When Life Gives You Leftover Lemon Jelly ...

Lemon Linzer Torte Cookies 
With Leftover Lemon Drizzle

A couple of weeks ago, I made Lemon Drop cupcakes for my HelloGiggles column. I had leftover lemon drizzle and decided:

When Life Gives You Leftover Lemon Jelly ... 
... You make Lemon Linzers! 

Best decision I ever made.  



Ingredients for the cookie dough: 
I used this recipe as a guide, but tweaked it ... 
PS If you are OCD, you are going to hate this thrown together recipe ... 
Sorry. 

3/4 cup butter, softened 
1 cup sugar 
1 to 2 egg whites 
1 teaspoon lemon zest 
2 cups all-purpose flour 
3/4 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
Pinch Clove
Big Pinch Nutmeg
2 teaspoons Vanilla, Almond or Arak extract 

Cream butter and sugar. 
Beat in egg, lemon and extracts. 
Add dry ingredients and spices. 
Roll out dough over flour and cut into shapes of your choosing. Remember, the cookies will be made into sandwiches. Pair each cookie with a mate and cut hole into half of the cookies. (See above image.)
Bake on greased baking sheet at 350 until cookies are golden brown, about 10 minutes.
Allow to cool.
Apply lemon jam (recipe below) as the center of the cookie sandwich. The cookie with hole in the middle atop a regular cookie, the jam visible in the center hole (See above image).
Sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Enjoy!

For the Lemon Jam 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1/3 cup granulated sugar 
1 large egg 
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 teaspoon vanilla

Use a double boiler (or use a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water): melt the butter in the top bowl. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice until blended and pour into the top bowl. Cook and whisk constantly (to prevent the egg from curdling)over the simmering water. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes pale in color and thickens to the consistency of sour cream (about 10 minutes of steady whisking or 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer if there are any lumps (strainer step optional). Keep the cooked lemon mixture off the heat, and stir in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Chill in refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

About the Linzer ... 
We fell in love at the Hungarian Pastry Shop in New York.

I attended a summer session at Columbia University in June. While I was in the neighborhood, I found myself returning the to the Hungarian Pastry Shop in Morningside Heights. It is an adorable little bakery cafe with a European vibe ... and staff. I had Linzers before, but here is where I fell in love. 

This Linzer Torte — a cake — is named after the Austrian city Linz.  Like the cookie, it is a jam filled dessert topped with powdered sugar. This cake is often referred to as the oldest in the world, with a known recipe dating back to 1653! The little cookie version of the confection, which is often referred to in the U.S. by the same name, is actually called a Linzer Sable. So, I hope you enjoy my Linzer Sable recipe! 




Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Lemon Drop (YES like the martini!!!) Cupcakes

Lemon Drop Cupcakes
As seen on HelloGiggles!


This recipe was first posted on HelloGiggles as part of my Cupcake Girl column.

That lemon drizzle ... 

•   2 ¾ cups sifted flour (1 ¼ cups cake flour and 1 ½ cups all purpose flour)
•   4 ½ teaspoons baking powder, just a tad less is good.
•   ½  teaspoon salt, just a tad less is good. Do Not Exceed ½ teaspoon.
•   4 egg whites
•   ½  teaspoon cream of tartar
•   1 ½  cups sugar ( ¾ cup granulated, ¾ cup confectioners’ sugar)
•   ¾ cup butter, softened
•   ¾  cup milk
•   ¼  cup vodka
•   1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•   juice from half a lemon
•   1 tablespoon lemon zest

Sift together flour, baking powder and salt.
Beat egg whites until foamy with cream of tartar.
In a separate bowl, cream butter and add sugar.  Blend egg mixture into this bowl.
Add dry ingredients alternately with milk, a small amount at a time.
Blend in extracts, lemon parts and vodka.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Allow cupcakes to cool.

For the Lemon Vodka Buttercream 
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups confectioner’s (powdered) sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon vodka, vodka to taste
Whip it all together!



For the Lemon Drizzle 
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 
1/3 cup granulated sugar 
1 large egg 
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
1 teaspoon lemon zest 1 teaspoon vanilla

Use a double boiler (or use a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water): melt the butter in the top bowl. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and lemon juice until blended and pour into the top bowl. Cook and whisk constantly (to prevent the egg from curdling)over the simmering water. Keep whisking until the mixture becomes pale in color and thickens to the consistency of sour cream (about 10 minutes of steady whisking or 160 degrees F on a candy thermometer). Remove from heat and immediately pour through a fine strainer if there are any lumps (strainer step optional). Keep the cooked lemon mixture off the heat, and stir in the lemon zest and vanilla extract. Chill in refrigerator for 2-6 hours.

Add buttercream & top with lemon drizzle! 
Cheers!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cologne & An Old Friend



The final installment in my Food & Travel series: 
German favorites & Cologne

As some of you may know, German food was the basis for this blog.  The Old Country is Germany. And the indigenous Bavarian cuisine — coupled with Lebanese and Louisiana dishes —taught to me by my Oma became a little blog. This was my second visit to Germany and my first visit after losing my Oma. It was a happy reminder of the stories she read me, the chocolate candies she snuck me, the language she spoke in whispers to my mom and the food she cooked for us. 

Cologne was also significant because I stayed with a dear friend.  We had the luxury (after living out of a duffle and cheap baguette lunches) of home cooked, healthy meals in Cologne. 

If you would like to try any German inspired meals at home, I invite you to peruse the German recipes in the "100 Recipes & Counting" box [see lefthand side]. Or click here!  

Scenes from Cologne 
German love.

The Cologne Cathedral.
After 5 years, we had a lot of catching up to do. 
Kolsch beer.
A pretzel at the 500+ year old Haus Zims Brewery.

Yummy food prepared by my friend Janina.

The Original Cologne perfume.
Cologne dome clock tower.

We made it to the top of the cathedral ... 500 ancient stairs later.
Janina & Robert on the Rhine's version of the Love Lock bride.
Old town.


A little note on friendship ... 

I first met Janina when she was an exchange student at my high school in 2005. Janina had excellent timing, moving to New Orleans in August 2005 ... Her arrival could be marked in days before Katrina's. I couldn't imagine being a 15-year-old, far from home and thrown in a disaster. Obviously, it was a tumultuous year for us both and we became fast friends. My family — and Oma — quickly bonded to Janina with a German common ground. We celebrated our 16th birthdays together, a few holidays, dances, Janina's first Mardi Gras, inhaled my SATC dvds and attended lots of losing high school football games. When Janina went back to Germany, we stayed in touch emailing each other massive essays about boys, school and dreamy futures in big US or European cities. Janina stayed with my family in summer 2007 and surprised me with a visit again in summer 2008. In 2009, Janina's family hosted my family in Germany. But then five years passed without a visit. Although we were continents apart, we stayed friends. When we went through breakups, moves, new boyfriends and loss, we still messaged or called each other — though months may have passed since the last conversation. So we were both a little nervous to see each other again when I visited her in Cologne. And we both felt silly for being nervous. Because some friendships, regardless of time and distance and change, never go out of style. 

With Janina summer 2008.





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