Follow the culinary adventures and misadventures of the Cooking Agents (Ray and Katie). Watch as we eat/cook our way into adulthood.
It’s been a while since I graced this blog or coworkers’ bellies with yummy treats. I know I’ve said it before, but baking is so therapeutic. It’s precise, like culinary chemistry, and the payoff is usually something delectable.
This past week, my team had an intern whose last day was Friday. I told him he could pick his favorite flavor and I’d come up with a cupcake for him and the team. Strawberry shortcake he said — so strawberry it was!
In a large bowl, cream together butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. Beat in 1/3 cup of the strawberry puree and vanilla extract. Add the confectioner sugar one cup at a time beating until well combined. Frost the cupcakes and garnish with fresh strawberries.
The frosting is nothing short of amazing. It literally tasted like ice cream… and I would know! I licked the spoon the night I made it. Did I feel guilty? NO I DID NOT. Make these cupcakes, you will run right down to Boston to give me a big hug and kiss.
Happy 100th post! It’s been a while, but I’m still in the heart of my busy season. Finding time to cook or even think about cooking has been replaced by excel spreadsheets and memos that are unfortunately not writing themselves.
The fact that Ray and I have been able to carve out pieces of our lives to blog about our shared passion is a success in itself. I’m so happy we’ve made it to 100. Let’s hear it for HUNDREDS more.
What better way to celebrate the big hundo than with my favorite? Citrus and cupcakes! Woot woot.
Key Lime Pie Cupcake Recipe
Makes 24 cupcakes.
1/2 C butter
1 C sugar
1 C milk
1 C flour
9 graham crackers
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp kosher salt
5 egg yolks
1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C key lime juice (I cheated and just used regular limes because I have no patience to juice small limes — it’s like peeling a grape!)
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix completely before adding the next egg.
In an open storage bag, crumb your graham crackers with a rolling pin. If you’re like me and like to release your stress and other other extreme emotion, grab a frying pan and whack the living daylights out of the bag. Combine with flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Add the dry ingredients in 3 batches, alternating with the milk and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just combined.
In a separate bowl, mix the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk, and lime juice. Pour the lime mixture into your batter and stir. Make sure there is a clear difference between the graham batter and the lime mixture. If you see graham batter clumps, then you’re good to go.
Fill cupcake liners 3/4s of the way and bake 20 minutes for full sized cupcakes, 10-12 minutes for mini cupcakes. I did a mix of both because I was getting impatient and wanted to cook off all of my cupcakes in one load.
Cream Cheese Frosting
2 8oz packages of cream cheese (room temperature)
1 1/2 sticks butter (room temperature)
6 C powdered sugar (more or less depending on your sweet tooth level)
1 tsp lime juice
Cream together the cream cheese and butter with a hand mixer or stand mixer. Add the powdered sugar slowly. This will ensure a non-chalky frosting. Add the lime and any food coloring you’d like. I did one drop of yellow and two drops of green to match the limey color.
Wait for cupcakes to come to room temperature and frost. Garnish with slices of lime and enjoy.
Thanks again everyone for the wonderful and continued support. Ray, I, and our humble blog truly appreciate it.
Attention, sane people — it is September 20th and I’ve already whipped out my Halloween sprinkles and harassed friends for canned packed pumpkin (thanks Kate!). Apparently, canned packed pumpkin is seasonal and now is not the season. LIES!
Pumpkin Cupcakes With Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Recipe by David Leite
Yields 20 cupcakes
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark-brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 extra large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla
1 15 oz can of solid packed pumpkin
Two (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
Make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with fabulous Halloween cupcake liners.
2. In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add the baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves, salt, and pepper into a medium bowl. You may choose to sift the dry ingredients together, but I typically skip this step because I’ve had no idea where my sifter’s been for the past 7 months.
3. Add the eggs one at a time to the mixer, scraping down the sides after each addition. Alternate adding the flour and milk mixtures, beginning and ending with the flour. Beat in the pumpkin until smooth. Scoop the batter among the cupcake liners — you’re looking to get them 3/4 full. Bake the cakes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool the cupcakes on racks completely before frosting.
Make the frosting:
In a stand mixer or with a hand mixer, beat all the ingredients on medium until fluffy. To assemble the cake, frost the top of one cake, place the other cake on top. Frost the cooled cupcakes and decorate with any crazy sprinkles and Halloween candies you have around.
These cupcakes are tremendous. They are moist, super delicious, and so season appropriate (especially if you’re a crazy early bird like me!). As you can probably tell, I had a very fun time decorating them. I even bought those damn pumpkin candies that I hate. Those didn’t make it to the picture because I was having an inner debate whether to add them. I really don’t like them… candy corn either. Gross. I did give in though, because they are just too cute to boot!
If you like pumpkin pie and feel like mixing it up a bit, definitely give these bad boys a try.
As a side note, yesterday was my 25th bday. WOOOO! I went to Menton, a Barbara Lynch restaurant (of course). I snapped some pretty snazzy pictures of the tasting menu goodies, so be on the look out for that in an upcoming post.
Chocolate Stout Cake from Bon Appetit
2 cups Guinness
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
4 cups AP flour
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
4 large eggs
1 1/3 cups sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bring 2 cups of Guinness and 4 sticks of butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. It will smell like heaven, but obviously tastes like crap since there is no sugar in it. I would know since I am a child and cannot possibly pass up licking a chocolatey spoon. Cool slightly and keep the spoon out of your mouth. You will thank me.
Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt in large bowl to blend. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Divide batter equally among prepared pans. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center of cakes comes out clean, about 20 minutes for mini cupcakes (35 minutes if you’re making a full sized cake and somewhere in the middle for the normal sized cupcakes). Let cupcakes cool before frosting.
At this point, you could run to your liquor cabinet and grab that Jameson. All variations of Irish Car Bomb (I know it’s not PC, I apologize) cupcakes have an Irish whiskey ganache. Ganache is a mix of chocolate (my favorite is bittersweet or semisweet), butter, and cream. For this cupcake, you’d want to add enough Jameson to taste. Then scoop out a small portion of the top of your cake and throw in some of your spiked ganache. I didn’t do this step because I hate Jameson.
Now for the frosting! This is my standard cream cheese frosting with a few healthy splashes of Irish cream. Take two sticks of butter, 8 oz of cream cheese, Bailey’s Irish cream, and powdered sugar. Cream the butter and the cream cheese together with a hand mixer. Add the Irish cream to taste. Begin adding the powdered sugar only a few tablespoons at a time and mix. I’ve noticed doing this makes the frosting much more smooth and less chalky. Keep adding sugar until you’ve reached your desired sweetness.
I’ve been a conventional baker for years now, so it’s really no surprise to me that tasty things are usually not good for you. It takes a lot to phase me in the kitchen, but I was horrified by the amount of butter in these. Staring at the 4 sticks of butter in the stout pool gave me the very same sinking feeling I got after making the Flour sticky buns. Regardless, it didn’t stop me from sneaking one (or two) after lunch. What? They were mini!
BANANA! So come inside and let me make something delectable out of you. Ray and I were supposed to have a banana baked good throw down, but Ray decided to be lazy bones. Yes, I am calling you out Ray.
I’m not a huge fan of eating bananas. I’m pretty sure I’m mildly allergic to them — lips get numb when I eat them straight from the peel. However, covering them in lipids, sugar, and flour seems to solve that problem. I had cupcakes on the brain, so I figured why not fall back on a classic banana nut cupcake (e.g. a frosted muffin).
First thing’s first. You’ll need to have some tools:
Say hello to your new friends the apple and the brown paper bag!
The magical apple and the brown paper bag are legit going to be your best friends if you’re like me and have no patience. I don’t like waiting for my bananas to get mushy mushy ripe. And that’s where these guys come to play. Just throw your bunch of bananas (it would be wise to buy yellow ones vs. green ones to begin with, don’t be dumb) and just wait 24-48 hours vs. an entire week! Voila!!!!
Recipe adapted from Paula Deen, the Queen of saturated fat
3 cups AP flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
4 bananas mashed
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup of vegetable oil (yikes! I know that’s a lot of oil. I will discuss this immense amount of fat later)
3 beaten eggs
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Mash the living daylights out of your bananas (see the visual above). I let them just settle for a minute so they have time to get nice and juicy. You want juicy because the amount of dry ingredients seem pretty overwhelming compared to the wet.
In the mean time, combine the 3 beaten eggs, the vanilla extract, and the 23957892345324 lbs of vegetable oil. Ok ok, so this is something I feel like you can get around. For instance, you can pull the healthy brownie approach and substitute half of this oil for some apple sauce. I don’t believe in being particularly healthy when it comes to desserts. I went for the oil 100% without even flinching. Plus, I didn’t want my cupcakes tasting anything close to apples.
Stir in the oil, egg, vanilla mixture just enough to get all of your dry ingredients wet. At this point, you’ll want to pour your bananas and any extras you may want like chocolate chips or nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, etc.). I used walnuts. Paula called for pecans, but it’s up to you and your taste buds.
Pour your batter into muffin cups, filling them about 3/4. I opted for mini cupcakes and got a full 75 mini cupcakes out of this recipe. Bake cupcakes for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Frost with a standard cream cheese frosting [2 8 oz. package of cream cheese creamed together with 2 stick of butter; add 1 lb. confectioners sugar (or less depending on how sweet you like your frosting), 1 tsp. vanilla extract]. In the past, I’ve added 1 tsp of cinnamon so that it would taste more like the cupcake. You could probably add some banana extract to the frosting as well, but I’m not a huge fan of extracts aside from the standard vanilla.
Serve and enjoy!