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Hot Chocolate Frosting

8 Feb
2014’s Holiday Bake-A-Thon wasn’t as busy as previous years have been.  I didn’t have time to do a lot of research and test runs of new recipes, so I ended up making some crowd pleasers from past holiday seasons, including Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies, Green Tea Sugar Cookies, Chai-Spiced Snickerdoodles, and Furikake Chex Mix.  I did try out one new recipe for a chocolate cupcake with hot chocolate frosting – the perfect cold-weather themed treat!  I keep reposting my favorite Guiness Chocolate Cupcake recipe that is truly my go-to recipe, so I’ll spare you from that. Here’s the recipe for the frosting portion as adapted from Cookies and Cups!
Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Hot Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Hot Chocolate Frosting

I made this for a two different parties, one with and one without the peppermint and I did find some people just don’t like mint and chocolate together, while others just do.  If I made this again, I’d make half the batch with the mint and half plain.  I found the Cookies and Cups’ version to be a little too sweet, so the second time around, I added a wee bit of salt to mellow it out a little.
INGREDIENTS
  • 1/2 C butter, room temperature
  • 4 C powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 C dry hot chocolate mix (about 2 packets; without mini marshmallows)
  • 1/3 C + 1 TBSP heavy whipping cream
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a small saucepan combine hot chocolate mix and cream. Heat over medium until hot and steaming…not quite boiling, stirring consistently. You want the sugar in the hot chocolate to dissolve. Set aside to cool.

    Hot Chocolate Mix and Heavy Cream

    Hot Chocolate Mix and Heavy Cream

  2. In large mixing bowl cream butter until smooth.
  3. Add in powdered sugar and salt, and mix until combined. It will be very dry.

    Add Hot Chocolate Mixture

    Add Hot Chocolate Mixture

  4. Turn mixer to low and slowly pour in your hot chocolate mixture (I learned the second time around that it’s easier than throwing it all in and then mixing it together). Once all is added turn mixer up to medium and beat for about a minute until light and fluffy, scarping down sides of bowl when necessary.

    Ready for Spreading

    Ready for Spreading

  5. Spread or pipe on cupcakes.

    Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

    Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

  6. (OPTIONAL): If you want to make mint hot chocolate frosting, just pulverize some of your leftover candy canes in a food processor and sprinkle over the top.  I saw these pink mint-flavored marshmallows at Target and thought it sounded good but it didn’t look that appealing (see gallery).

It made for a great winter-y holiday treat!

Banana Split Ice Cream Cake

4 Oct

I recalled having Baskin-Robbins ice cream cakes on quite a few birthday celebrations for Crystal throughout the 10+ years I’ve known her.  And any time she had a chance to bring dessert to a potluck, she brought ice cream cake.  I thought it might be somewhat of a no-brainer to see if she’d want one for her birthday potluck a few weekends ago, but I wanted to make sure she’d be into it.  This is literally the conversation we had verbatim:

Allison:  hi friend, do you have room in your freezer if i made an ice cream cake for saturday?
Crystal:  hey
Allison:   or is it pretty packed?
Crystal:  OMG YES
Allison:  otherwise i can do cupcakes or something haha
Crystal:  NO we have room hahaha
Allison:  did i hit the mark? i feel like ice cream cake is your fav
Crystal:  umm it’s alright…UHHHH YA LOVE IT hahahaha
 
Off I went looking for some ideas – I didn’t want to make something you could easily buy.  I found an AMAZING-looking recipe for a Banana Split Ice Cream Cake on Brown Eyed Baker (which is the same blog I found my favorite cupcake recipe on).
 
The full recipe is a little long, so bear with me.  I didn’t include the ice cream recipes, since I used store-bought ice cream on this cake.  I don’t have an ice cream maker, but Dreyer’s Grand (not the slow-churned stuff!) has great consistency for spreading the ice cream.  I will leave the links for the sauces that I made to shorten this post a bit.  I used Brown Eyed Baker’s strawberry and pineapple sauce recipe, but I used Food Network’s Tyler Florence’s version for the chocolate sauce (I generally just don’t like using corn syrup).
 
Since we were expecting 25 people at the potluck, I made two cakes in a 9×3 springform pan and a small loaf tin for the second cake, using 1.5 the amount of the suggested ingredients.  This ended up being a 5-day process, given my day job.  I got nervous the ice cream would freezer burn being out that long, as I’ve had frequent freezer burn problems with my freezer.  After lots of Googling, I found that using parchment paper helps prevent it.  Each time I finished a layer that would be in the freezer overnight or while I was at work, I cut out a 9″ round piece of parchment paper to keep in contact with the top layer of ice cream or sauce.  This recipe is just for one 8×3 inch springform pan’s worth of awesomeness.
 
INGREDIENTS:
For the Crust:
  • 20 Oreo cookies, crushed into crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 to 3 bananas, sliced ½-inch thick

For the Strawberry Layer:

For the Chocolate Layer:

  • 1 pint chocolate ice cream
  • 1 cup hot fudge sauce, at room temperature (make sure it’s a pourable consistency, warm briefly if necessary)

For the Vanilla Layer:

For the Whipped Cream:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Garnish:

  • Maraschino cherries
  • Chopped walnuts

DIRECTIONS:

1. Spray an 8×3-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom and sides with parchment paper; set aside.

2. Assemble the Crust: Combine the Oreo cookie crumbs with the melted butter, tossing until all of the crumbs are evenly moistened. Press into an even layer in the bottom of the prepared pan. Top with the banana slices. Place the pan in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.

Crust and Banana Layer

Crust and Banana Layer

3. Assemble the Strawberry Layer: Top the banana layer with the strawberry ice cream. Use an offset spatula (or the back of a giant spoon) to spread the ice cream into a smooth, even layer. Place the pan back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.

Laying Down the Strawberry Ice Cream

Laying Down the Strawberry Ice Cream

4. Pour the strawberry topping over the strawberry ice cream and gently spread so that it covers the entire ice cream layer beneath. Return to the freezer for at least 1 hour, or until completely frozen. This is where I took a break and froze the cake overnight, so I put a layer of parchment paper down to prevent freezer burn.

Parchment Paper - My BFF

Parchment Paper – My BFF

5. Assemble the Chocolate Layer: Top the strawberry layer with the chocolate ice cream. Use an offset spatula to spread the ice cream into a smooth, even layer. Place the pan back in the freezer for at least 30 minutes, or until firm and set.

Laying Down the Chocolate Ice Cream Layer

Laying Down the Chocolate Ice Cream Layer

6. Pour the hot fudge sauce over the chocolate ice cream and gently spread so that it covers the entire ice cream layer beneath. Return to the freezer for at least 1 hour, or until completely frozen.

7. Assemble the Vanilla Layer: Top the hot fudge layer with the vanilla ice cream. Use an offset spatula to spread the ice cream into a smooth, even layer. Cover with plastic wrap, return the assembled cake to the freezer and freeze overnight. Don’t forget the layer of parchment paper!

Main Part of the Cake - All Done!

Main Part of the Cake – All Done!

8. Final Assembly and Garnishment: At least 1 hour (and no more than 12 hours) before serving, unmold the cake. To release the cake from the pan, invert the cake onto a plate or cardboard round the same size and wrap a hot kitchen towel around the cake pan, keeping it there for 30 seconds, or until the cake loosens and slide the pan off.

Place Plate on the Top Side of Cake

Place Plate on the Top Side of Cake

Remove the parchment (and bottom of pan if using a springform). Top with a serving plate and turn the cake right side up. Return to the freezer for at least 10 minutes.

Flip and Place Cake Board on the Bottom Side of Cake

Flip and Place Cake Board on the Bottom Side of Cake

9. While the cake is in the freezer, make the whipped cream. Combine the heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip on medium-high speed until the cream is light and fluffy and holds a medium to firm peak, 2 to 3 minutes.

Whip it Good!

Whip it Good!

10. Just prior to serving, pipe the whipped cream into mounds around the outer edge of the cake, making sure the mounds touch so that no pineapple sauce leaks down the top. Place a maraschino cherry on top of each whipped cream mound.

Pipe Whipped Cream Around Perimeter of Cake

Pipe Whipped Cream Around Perimeter of Cake

11. Fill in the space in the middle with the pineapple topping and top with chopped walnuts. A hot, dry knife will yield the cleanest cuts. Dip your knife in a glass of hot water, wipe it clean with a towel, and cut a slice. Repeat between every slice. Store leftover slices in airtight containers (or covered with parchment paper and foil) in the freezer.

Pretty Please with a Cherry on Top!

Pretty Please with a Cherry on Top!

Note: If you are making homemade ice cream, your best bet is to time the assembly so that you can add the freshly-churned ice cream right onto the cake. It will be the perfect consistency. If you will be using already-made ice cream, put it in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before you plan to need it and then mix it really well with a spatula so that it is smooth and spreadable.

Layers of a Banana Split!

Layers of a Banana Split!

After work the day before the BBQ, I pulled the cake out of the freezer to check on it and saw this:

My dad had accidentally left two heavy WARM ice packs on top of the parchment paper layer of cake the night before, and the packs had melted the already soft ice cream and pushed it down, causing the top layer to get a little foamy and spill out the sides of the pan.  My 4 days of work leading up to that had been ruined.  I could only think of one thing to say, but it was already too late.  After a good hour of wanting to take a wrecking ball to my kitchen, I calmed down tried to figure out how to salvage the cake.  I re-froze the cake, and then scraped off as much as I could of the vanilla layer without breaking the chocolate sauce layer.  I put another layer of parchment paper down and froze it for a few hours.   I reapplied the vanilla ice cream layer, put another layer of parchment down and froze it overnight.  The next morning, I made the whipped cream and piped it on to the cake, and filled the top with the pineapple sauce.

Banana Split Ice Cream Cake

Banana Split Ice Cream Cake

The cake layers definitely weren’t as perfect as I had hoped, but there was no time to start the cake over.  Thankfully, Sho-Yu is definitely not a crowd to judge based on appearances as we tend to just inhale sweets however imperfect they may look.

Happy Birthday, Crystal!

Happy Birthday, Crystal!

I do think Crystal was a happy camper with the cake, and there were no leftovers which is always a good sign.

Salted Caramel Cupcakes

17 Sep

I’m having trouble accepting that summer is over and we’re merely days away from the first day of fall.  My days of tanning frantically so that people stop asking me if I’m sick are over, and I won’t have to worry about being seen in a swimsuit anymore.

…I think I’ll be able to cope with it.  I’ve been really behind on baking due to the never ending list of weekend social, athletic, and work obligations this summer.  Every weekend seemed to present itself with weddings or basketball tournaments (sometimes both), or work events.  Luckily, there was ONE weekend in August where I had time to make something – luckily it also happened to be Kelli‘s birthday potluck with Sho-Yu.  Since she loves all things salted caramel, I whipped up a batch of Salted Caramel Cupcakes.  I found the recipe on Cookies and Cups, who adapted it from The Butch Bakery Cookbook.  I actually did some adapting of my own to the recipe, after making Cookies and Cups’ version of the caramel sauce.  I thought the original recipe left the caramel sauce a bit too watery and not rich enough, so I ended up making a second version of the caramel sauce.  Below is what I’m recommending!

Ingredients:

Caramel Sauce:
    • 10 TBSP butter
    • 2 1/4 C packed brown sugar
    • 1/4 C whole milk
Cupcakes:
    • 1 3/4 C all purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 12 TBSP butter, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tsp vanilla
    • 3/4 C whole milk
Caramel Buttercream:
  • 3/4 C reserved caramel sauce
  • 3 C powdered sugar
  • 4 TBSP butter, room temperature
  • 1 TBSP milk
  • Sea Salt for topping

Directions:

Caramel Sauce:
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat the brown sugar for a bit (it won’t melt the way white sugar does), and then add the butter and milk. Bring to a boil.

    Boiling Caramel

    Boiling Caramel

  2. Let mixture until all of the sugar is melted (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.  If you’re finding that the caramel is too liquidy, add more sugar.  Conversely, if you’re finding that the caramel hardens when you dip a spoon and pull it out for a bit, add a little more butter.
Cupcakes:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. Line muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. In a separate bowl combine flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk together.
  4. In mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar over medium speed for 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and continue beating until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl when necessary.
  5. Add the flour and the milk, beating on low speed until ingredients are just combined.
  6. Fill each liner a little more than 1/2 full.  I used a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop but don’t use a full 1/4 cup in each cupcake liner.

    Oven Time!

    Oven Time!

  7. Bake approx 20 minutes until centers are set.
  8. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes.
Caramel Buttercream:
  1. While cupcakes are cooling make the frosting. Combine butter, powdered sugar 3/4 cup prepared (and COOLED) caramel sauce and milk in a mixing bowl. Beat ingredients together about 2 minutes until creamy.

    Frosting

    Frosting

Constructing Cupcakes:
  1. After cupcakes have cooled for about 10 minutes, pierce the tops of cupcakes with a sharp knife or skewer about 10 times. Pour about 1 tablespoon of caramel sauce on top of each cupcake, allowing it to absorb into the holes.

    Caramel Sauce

    Caramel Sauce

  2. Let the cupcakes finish cooling completely and then frost with about 2 tablespoons of frosting on each.  Or you can just pipe the frosting on as I did.

  3. Lightly sprinkle your cupcakes with (coarse or flaked) sea salt.

My two favorite cupcakes are still the Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and Samoas Cupcakes, but these were definitely a hit at the party.

The Crumble – Strawberry and Cherry

7 Jul

Summer is officially in full swing, though this sadly also means we are well into bikini season.  The good news is that summer months bring in cherries, peaches, plums, and more wonderful fruit, and while I should be working out a lot so I can hit the beach, I’ve really just doing a lot more baking and eating.

In preparation for the coming of stone fruit season, I took a baking class on cobblers, crisps, crumbles, and buckles back in April.  We had a potluck dinner for the Kawasaki twins’ birthdays at the end of the month, but the aforementioned fruits from my local grocery stores weren’t quite ripe yet.  I decided to make a crumble featuring strawberries instead.  I prepped everything in advance and assembled and baked it at Kelli‘s.

Happy Birthday, Twinsies!

Happy Birthday, Twinsies!

I forgot to take photo of finished Strawberry Crumble with the ice cream on top, so the above is the closest thing I have.  Here’s the recipe!

Topping:

  • 3/4 C flour
  • 3/4 C brown sugar
  • 1/2 C almond or hazelnut flour
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 C old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 sticks butter, cold and cubed

1. Place the flours, sugars, and butter in a food processor and pulse until pea sized clumps form.

Crumble Topping - Butter, White and Brown Sugar, Oats

Crumble Topping – Butter, White and Brown Sugar, Oats

2. Fold in the oats.

3. Place on a baking sheet and freeze until butter is cold.

Strawberry Filling

  • 1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest
  • 4 C strawberries
  • 1 T flour
  • 3/4 C granulated sugar
  • 1/2 C freshly squeezed orange juice

1. Toss the strawberries, sugar, and the orange zest together in a large bowl.

2. In a measuring cup, dissolve the flour in the orange juice and then mix it into the fruit.

Strawberry Filling - Strawberry, Orange Zest, Orange Juice, Flour, Sugar

Strawberry Filling – Strawberry, Orange Zest, Orange Juice, Flour, Sugar

3. Pour into ramekins about 2/3 full, or in an 8×11 pan if making a bigger one.

4. Add crumble topping on top.

Strawberry Crumble

Strawberry Crumble

5. Bake at 350ºF for 12-15 minutes until bubbly (50 minutes if using an 8×11 pan).

The great thing about crumbles is that they are quick to make and pretty much foolproof.  For those that turn the simplest of recipes into culinary disasters, the crumble is perfect for you.  You’re essentially just tossing some fresh fruit in some sugar, tossing the crumble on top, and popping it in the oven!  You don’t need to be precise with measurements or too pretentious with presentation.  You also can make as little or as much filling as you want and save the crumble topping for later.  I froze the leftover topping from the twins’ birthday and ended up using some for a couple mugs of cherry crumble for Kevin and I a few weekends ago using the first batch of gorgeous cherries I saw at the market.  Easy!  Here’s the cherry filling recipe:

Cherry Filling

  • 1/2 C sugar
  • 6 C fresh cherries, pitted
  • 2 T flour

1. Whisk flour and sugar together and then toss in fruit.

2. Add crumble topping.

3. Bake at 325ºF for 10 minutes.

4. Top with lots of ice cream!

Cherry Crumble in a Mug

Cherry Crumble in a Mug

Fingers crossed all of the basketball Sho-Yu has been playing lately will negate all of the sweets!

Eggnog Cupcakes

25 Jun

We’re officially 6 months away from Christmas, folks.  During one of my recent attempts to catch up on blogging, I realized I still had sweets from Christmas I still hadn’t posted about so I decided to wait til now to post since maybe now we’re a bit closer to the holiday recipe bookmarking season.

I made a batch of Apple Pie cookies for the 2011 Annual Kawasaki Family Christmas party, but wanted to do something a little more holiday-esque for 2012’s.  I never drink eggnog, but I do like eggnog-flavored baked goods.  I combined two recipes to make this version – the cupcake recipe is from A Good Appetite, and the frosting recipe is from Dollhouse Bake Shoppe.  Here’s my combination!

Ingredients
Eggnog Cupcake
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/3 cups + 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2/3 teaspoon salt
  • 5 egg whites, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup eggnog
  • 2 teaspoons of rum (optional)
Eggnog Cream Cheese Frosting
  • 8oz cream cheese, room temperature (don’t use light or low fat)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), sifted
  • Pinch of Ground Nutmeg
  • 1-2 tablespoons eggnog, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon Rum, to taste (optional)
 Directions
For eggnog cupcakes:
1.  Preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 24 mini cupcake tins or 15 regular tins with size appropriate liners.
2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter & 1 1/3 cups of sugar together until light & fluffy. Beat in the rum & vanilla. Add the baking powder, salt & 2/3 cup flour, and beat until combined. Beat in 1/3 cup eggnog. Then beat in another 2/3 cup flour, followed by the rest of the eggnog & then the rest of the flour.
3. In another bowl beat the egg whites until foamy. Add in the remaining 3 tablespoons of sugar. Beat on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold (not stir!) 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter until completely combined then fold in the remaining egg whites.
Fold (not stir!) the Egg Whites Into the Batter

Fold (not stir!) the Egg Whites Into the Batter

4. Divide the batter between the cupcake tins, filling each one 2/3 full. Bake 15 minutes for mini cupcakes or 22 minutes for regular. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out clean.

Too Much Mixing = Flat Cupcakes

Too Much Mixing = Flat Cupcakes

5. Cool completely on a rack.

For eggnog cream cheese frosting:
1. With an electric mixer, beat butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth (make sure they are both at room temperature so you do not get lumps in your frosting). Gradually beat in powdered sugar until incorporated. Add vanilla, a pinch of ground nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons eggnog, add more to taste. Add 1-2 tablespoons of rum if desired. Beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
Fluffy!

Fluffy!

2. Garnish cupcakes with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg (a cinnamon stick will work too!).
Piping the Mini Cupcakes

Piping the Mini Cupcakes

 My brother was over that day and started hovering over my work station, nearly knocking over my bowl of freshly made frosting.  I of course yelled at him to leave me in peace, and then proceeded to frost the cupcakes one by one, and then sprinkle the nutmeg on top.
A Little Sprinkle of Nutmeg!

A Little Sprinkle of Nutmeg!

Getting nervous that he would tornado into the kitchen and knock over the box of perfect little cupcakes, I put the box in my room until it was time to leave for the party.

Ready for the Party!

Ready for the Party!

And of course, I really didn’t have to worry about my brother because I managed to knock the box over onto its side right before I left for the party.

Failing at Life

Failing at Life

The good news is they didn’t last longer than 10 minutes once they got to the party, regardless of the way they looked.