March 2, 2014
Like I said before, January and February are the official Birthday Months around here. I crank out cakes and cupcakes every other day, it seems, which is great for me because I get to try out all the recipes I pin on Pinterest but don’t have to eat it all and gain a million pounds. Cupcakes are especially fun because we can keep a few for ourselves to taste test.
I’ve posted about coconut cupcakes before, and I still stand by that amazingly delicious recipe that is like sweet cake from the gods. That frosting recipe is seriously out of this world. But I also love this recipe. I love the combo of vanilla and coconut, and this frosting is also pretty darn good. I found this recipe on Epicurious a few years ago, made them a few times, then forgot about it and rediscovered it last month. I will definitely be making these again!
Coconut Vanilla Bean Cupcakes
Reduced coconut milk:
2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups sugar
3 large eggs
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup reduced coconut milk (see above), room temperature
Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted (for garnish)
For reduced coconut milk:
Bring coconut milk to boil in large deep saucepan over medium-high heat (coconut milk will boil up high in pan). Reduce heat to medium-low; boil until reduced to 1 1/2 cups, stirring occasionally, 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat; cool completely. Transfer to small bowl. Cover; chill (coconut milk will settle slightly as it cools). DO AHEAD: This should be made at least 8 hours ahead so that it can settle. Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 350°F. Line eighteen 1/3-cup muffin cups with paper liners. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar; beat on medium-high speed until well blended, about 2 minutes. Add 2 eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition and occasionally scraping down sides of bowl. Beat in seeds from vanilla bean and remaining egg. Add half of flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Add 1 cup reduced coconut milk; mix just until blended. Add remaining flour mixture; mix on low speed just until blended. Divide batter among muffin cups. Bake cupcakes until tops spring back when gently touched and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Transfer cupcakes in pans to rack; cool 10 minutes. Carefully remove cupcakes from pans and cool completely on rack.
Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar, 1/3 cup reduced coconut milk, seeds from vanilla bean, and salt. Beat on medium-low speed until blended, scraping down sides of bowl. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy.
Using pastry bag fitted with large star tip, pipe frosting onto cooled cupcakes. (Alternatively, top each cupcake with 2 tablespoons frosting. Using small offset spatula, swirl frosting over top of cupcakes, leaving 1/2-inch plain border.) Sprinkle with coconut. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store in airtight containers; chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.
February 18, 2014
It’s cake season around here…we have several birthdays in January and February in our family, so I’m basically making cake after cake for about two months. This is one of my favorite cake recipes…I typically make it as a 9″ layer cake, but my sister-in-law wanted cupcakes for her birthday party, and they turned out really great. I’ve posted about the frosting before, on a similar cake that I’ve made often, and also love, but since I discovered this Cook’s Illustrated version I may just make this one from now on whenever I’m wanting a yellow cake. Because of science-y Cook’s Illustrated details, this cake is fluffier and has a finer crumb. And the frosting is silky and delicious…you have to try it!
Fluffy Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting
from Cook’s Illustrated
2 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
1 3/4 cups sugar (12 1/4 ounces)
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 large egg yolks, room temperature
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1. Adjust oven rack to middle and heat to 350 degrees. Place 27 cupcake liners into cupcake tins (or grease two 9″ round cake pans and line with parchment paper, then grease and flour). Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and 1 1/2 cup sugar in a large bowl. In 4 cup liquid measuring cup or medium bowl, whisk together melted butter, buttermilk, oil, vanilla and yolks.
2. In clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg whites at medium-high speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With machine running, gradually add remaining 1/4 cup sugar, continue to beat until stiff peaks form, about a minute or so. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.
3. Add flour mixture to now-empty mixing bowl fitted with a whisk attachment. With mixer running at low speed, gradually pour in butter mixture and mix until almost incorporated (a few streaks of dry flour will remain), about 15 seconds. Stop mixer and scrape whisk and sides of bowl. Return mixer to med-low speed and beat until smooth and fully incorporated, 10-15 seconds.
4. Using a rubber spatula, stir 1/3 of the whites into the batter to lighten, then add remaining whites and gently fold into batter until no white streaks remain. Fill each cupcake liner evenly, about 3/4 full.
5. Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 17-19 minutes. Let cool on rack in pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely. Frost with milk chocolate frosting.
Milk Chocolate Frosting
While cakes are cooling, prepare frosting.
20 tbsp butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup dutch processed cocoa powder
pinch table salt
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla
8 oz. high quality milk chocolate, like Ghiradelli, melted and cooled slightly
In a food processor, process butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed, about 30 seconds. Add corn syrup and vanilla and process until just combined, 5-10 seconds. Scrape sides of the bowl, then add chocolate and pulse until smooth and creamy, about 10-15 times.
Fill a pastry bag with frosting and either cut the tip off so that there’s about a 1/2″ round opening, or fit with a piping tip. Swirl frosting generously on cupcakes. Eat and be happy!
October 18, 2013
This is one of those things that I can’t believe I haven’t shared yet. I make this almost every year, and it is one of my absolute favorite cakes. For one, I love apples. Secondly, who doesn’t like sweet and salty together? That’s what this cake is…a rich, moist, apple cake, infused with a decadent salted caramel sauce. This is an adaptation of my Granny’s recipe that Aunt Suzy gave me years ago, and you need to make it ASAP.
This is a pretty easy cake – peeling and chopping the apples is the most time consuming part. Because it’s an oil cake, you don’t even have to get out the mixer…just whip it up by hand. Make sure you give plenty of time before having to serve it, though, because you need to let it sit for 2 hours after it comes out of the oven so that the caramel sauce sinks down into the cake and makes it into yummy goodness.
Caramel Apple Cake
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups peeled, chopped apples
1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts
3 cups all-purpose unbleached flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp mace (or 1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg)
Have all ingredients at room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 10″ tube pan with removable bottom.
Whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and mace in a medium bowl and set aside. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla until completely combined and a little bit fluffy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add dry ingredients, stirring carefully with a wooden spoon until completely combined. Add apples and walnuts and stir until just combined. Spoon into prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 hour and 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a cooling rack, and prepare the caramel sauce.
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup salted butter
1/4 cup milk
Melt butter in saucepan. When butter is melted, add sugar and milk and stir until combined. Boil hard for 3 minutes, and immediately pour over the cake (make sure you don’t boil it for any longer than 3 minutes or you will end up with hard candy on top of your cake! Still tastes good, but hard on the teeth). Let the cake cool for 2 hours, then carefully remove from the pan by removing the center, inverting it onto a large flat plate, then invert it again to right side up onto your serving plate. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
June 12, 2013
I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this cake yet. I have made this cake more than any other…well, besides the old family stand-by. But this cake is SO GOOD. It has a really nice cocoa flavor, not super deep-rich chocolate, so it’s great for all palates. And the frosting is so fluffy and buttery, it just melts in your mouth. I’ve made this cake for numerous birthdays, get-togethers, and just because we want cake. It’s not super difficult, as far as cake recipes go. If you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned, super moist and chocolatey cake recipe, this is IT.
My mom gave me the recipe several years ago, in an article cut out of her local newspaper. It was literally called the “World’s Best Chocolate Cake” (I did not give it this ridiculous name). I don’t remember the specifics of the article…someone won a cake contest, or a cake connoisseur happened upon it at a dinner at a friend’s, or something along those lines. I tried to find the original article, to no avail, so I can’t tell you the real story. All I can remember is that the writer thought this cake was the best he had ever had, and I had to see for myself. It’s pretty darn good.
TIPS AND TRICKS:
For one, and this goes for most cakes I make, when sifting the dry ingredients, I use the following method: I cut two pieces of waxed paper, and set them side by side on the counter. I first sift the flour onto the first piece of paper, then put the sifter on the other paper and measure out the flour, putting it back into the sifter. Then I place the rest of the dry ingredients in the sifter with the flour and sift them all together onto the second piece of waxed paper. Then I just set that aside until I need to add it to the batter. It’s pretty easy to add it, just carefully picking up the paper at each edge, creating kind of a funnel, and slowly pour it into the mixer. Save your waxed paper for later…you can use one to sift your powdered sugar onto, and the other for my trick below.
Secondly, don’t be alarmed when the batter looks curdled after you add the water and vanilla. It will smooth back out after the addition of flour and buttermilk. No worries.
Third. When preparing to frost the cake, cut up one of the pieces of waxed paper and slide them under the first layer. It takes four strips, make sure the plate is completely covered. Then when you’re frosting the cake, the frosting isn’t getting on your serving plate. When you’re done frosting, carefully slide the strips out from under the cake and voila! Clean plate.
World’s Best Chocolate Cake
Have all your ingredients at room temperature. Line two 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with baking spray with flour (or butter and flour the pans). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt, and set aside. Cream the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer (or use a stand mixer-my recommendation). Gradually add the sugar, and beat at medium speed for one minute, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each egg. Gradually add the water and vanilla on low speed, and then beat on medium for one minute more. With the mixer on low speed, add one third of the flour mixture, and beat on low until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half of the buttermilk, beat on low, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then beat on low until completely combined again. Alternate the flour and buttermilk in this fashion, ending with the last third of flour mixture. Pour into pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on racks for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool on rack until completely cooled.
1 six oz. package high quality semisweet chocolate chips, or semisweet chocolate chopped up (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Bowl of ice
Combine chocolate chips, whipping cream and butter in double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring constantly until smooth (I use a large mixing bowl set on top of a medium saucepan…less to clean up). Remove from heat and add powdered sugar. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice, and using an electric hand mixer, beat on high speed until the frosting holds its shape, about 10 minutes. Make sure you take it out of the bowl of ice immediately, so that the bottom of the frosting doesn’t freeze.
April 14, 2013
Aunt Suzy says . . .
I’ve wanted to make a cornmeal-based cake for a while, with my eye on one made with olive oil. But this cake, featured in our local newspaper’s Taste section, looked good and was just what was needed to get me in gear. We really enjoyed it for breakfast with tea and coffee, feeling that tea was the better complement. I also toasted and buttered a slice the second day – delish! One of the things we really liked about this cake is that it’s not very sweet, making it perfect for breakfast. The original recipe suggested berries and/or whipped cream when serving the cake as a dessert.
I’m really glad Aunt Suzy shared this recipe with me! I made it for our Saturday morning breakfast (baked the night before), and it was really fantastic with our over-easy eggs and yogurt with strawberries. I love the orange flavor and the texture the corn meal gives to the cake. My son pointed out that it would also be good with frosting (of course), and I agree, as a dessert it would be great with an orange glaze (2 tbsp fresh orange juice, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tbsp orange zest).
Cornmeal Pound Cake with Orange and Dried Cranberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
Generous pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
5 eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon grated orange rind
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter or grease a 5 x 9-inch loaf pan.
Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy. Next, beat in the egg yolks one at a time, continuing to mix at high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla, orange rind and orange juice and dried cranberries.
Gently fold the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and stir until combined.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter using a spatula until combined. Scoop into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. This will take 1 to 1 1/4 hours depending on your oven.
When done, remove and allow to cool in the pan. Remove from the pan and turn the cake right side up. Cool completely before slicing.
AS COOK’S NOTES: The original recipe called for 1/4 cup dried cranberries, but each slice had only 2-3 pieces per! We’ve increased the amount of cranberries to 1/2 cup – they provide a nice contrast in taste and texture to the cake. I used the organic dried cranberries from Trader Joe’s, which are large, round and plump. The baking time was specified at 1 hour 15 minutes, but I was glad I checked at 65 minutes, because the cake was definitely done – maybe slight too done! I recommend setting a timer for 1 hour and checking from there until done.
M COOK’S NOTES: I agree about the baking time…I checked it at 55 minutes and found mine to be too done, too…It probably could have come out at 52 minutes. I would actually recommend starting to check at 50 minutes.
March 5, 2013
Snow day + uneaten grapefruits = cake.
Actually, add in there that I kind of owe my husband, Jason, a cake for catering to my whims and painting our daughter’s room in multi-color chevron stripes, which was NOT an easy task. It looks great, though! So he deserves a cake. (I’ll take any excuse, right?)
Uneaten grapefruits because of Desi. I bought a big bag of them because they were one of the few fruits left on the fast diminishing list of things he deems edible. Then three grapefruits into the bag he scratched grapefruits off the list. So, being the only person working her way through this giant bag, I got tired of grapefruit, too and needed to do something else with them. So I juiced and zested them and starting looking for ideas. (PS. zesting grapefruits makes your house smell AMAZING. I felt like I was in a tropical paradise in the middle of a gross Chicago winter.)
This is actually a recipe I’ve been wanting to make for a couple years, gotten from the New York Times Magazine, for a yuzu chiffon cake. But I needed a recipe for grapefruit, and part of the reason why I haven’t made this cake yet is because who the heck has yuzus? Well, at the bottom of the recipe it says you can substitue Meyer lemons for the yuzus. But Wikipedia says that the closest thing to a yuzu is a grapefruit. So I’m going with Wikipedia. And whether that’s true or not, the cake turned out DELICIOUS. (Of course, it helps that the chocolate glaze is like rich dark chocolate pudding smothered all over the cake. YUM.) For the rest of my grapefruit juice, I’m going to make a grapefruit pound cake from Smitten Kitchen. Can’t wait.
So I took advantage of the fact that Jason stayed home from work today to do the dishes (again) and make a cake KID FREE before he disappeared upstairs to work a little. Can I add that I am so sick of doing dishes??
You will need a tube pan for this, with a removable bottom (like an angel food cake pan). It won’t work in a regular cake pan because it will fall in the middle.
Grapefruit Chiffon Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze
For the cake:
1¾ cups sifted all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup fresh squeezed grapefruit juice, squeezed
1 tbsp grapefruit zest
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon salt
7 eggs, separated
¼ cup oil
¾ cup plain yogurt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
For the glaze:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
½ cup milk
½ cup sugar
½ cup unsweetened, nonalkalized cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt.
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Have ready a 9 or 10″ tube pan. Sift flour, cornstarch and baking powder at least 5 times. Add yuzu zest, sugar and salt and stir to combine. In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, strained grapefruit juice and oil. Add to flour mixture. Using a spatula, add yogurt and stir until smooth. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat egg whites and cream of tartar to soft peaks. Quickly and gently fold 1/4 of the egg whites into batter until you no longer see streaks of white, then fold in the rest until no streaks remain. Pour into prepared tube pan. Bake for 55 minutes, until cake springs back when lightly pressed. Let cool in pan set on a baking rack for 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add milk, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Whisk until incorporated. Once it reaches a low boil, whisk gently for 1 minute and remove from heat. Let come to room temperature.
3. Twenty minutes before frosting the cake, put the ganache in the refrigerator until firm (I didn’t do this, but my kitchen is very chilly). Gently remove cake from pan. Pour the ganache over the cake, covering the top and drizzling it over the sides and in the center.
February 8, 2013
I got this idea from a pin on Pinterest, where I get most of my baking ideas lately. The recipe that I found was a little more complicated than I was wanting to deal with, so I simplified it by using a one-bowl chocolate cake. The cupcakes were a hit…some even said they were the best I’ve ever made. Yay! I’ve made them twice in the last two months already.
This cake recipe is one of my old stand-bys. I’ve been meaning to post it for ages, but I’m always rushed when I make it, so never take the time to take any photos. This is an updated version of the original that I’ve been baking since I was in college, the original being a recipe from my “Betty Crocker” cookbook, which was my first cookbook. The original recipe just uses chocolate chips, and in a pinch I still do that for ease, thrift and to save time. Also, with the original recipe, you just mix the cake directly in the pan…but I find that its actually easier to mix in a bowl. It’s a great recipe to throw together when you have surprise company coming, or if you suddenly find yourself needing something sweet to eat. I always store excess frosting in the freezer, and use it to top the cake (I’ve used everything from leftover chocolate frosting to leftover orange-cream cheese frosting), or if it’s just a last minute thing that I’ve thrown together, I leave it in the pan and top with powdered sugar. Both ways are delicious. Lastly, the reason I put this recipe in the vegan category is because of the cake…it’s completely vegan (just make sure you’re using vegan chocolate-very easy to find!), and is really great just topped with powdered sugar as a vegan treat. Another way I’ve made it for vegan friends also is by baking it into cupcakes (without the graham cracker crust it makes about 12 cupcakes), and frosting with vegan whipped cream.
Graham Cracker Crust
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (you can buy them in the baking aisle)
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
4 tbsp unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt butter, and stir in with graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a small bowl. Line 20 muffin cups with paper liners, and place 1 tablespoon of graham cracker mixture in each cup, pressing down with a small flat-bottomed cup. Bake for about 5 minutes, until base hardens. Set aside and make cake batter.
Chocolate Cake *see note below
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (3 1/2 ounces)
Mix together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water, oil and vanilla, and whisk until incorporated completely. Add chocolate and stir until just incorporated. Fill prepared cupcake papers 3/4 full with batter. Should stretch to make about 20 cupcakes. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out clean of cake batter (it may have a little melted chocolate on it, and that’s ok). Allow to cool for 10 minutes on cooling rack, and then remove the cupcakes from the pan and cool completely.
Marshmallow Frosting (or 7-minute frosting)
6 large egg whites**
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place egg whites, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and set over medium saucepan of barely simmering water (you can put it in a double boiler, but then you have to transfer it to a mixer bowl, and this way is much easier). Stir the mixture with a whisk, cooking until the sugar has completely melted, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer to the mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high speed, adding the vanilla while mixing, for about 7 minutes.
To pipe the frosting: Place pastry bag with tip cut off (or ziplock bag with one corner cut off) in a large glass and fold the sides of the pastry bag over the sides of the glass (if you shop at Trader Joe’s and use their coffee, I’ve found that their coffee containers work perfectly for this!). Fill bag with frosting and pipe onto cupcakes. If you have a kitchen torch, AWESOME! Use it to “toast the marshmallow.” Otherwise, you can do what I did and just sprinkle some extra graham cracker crumbs on top. Voila! S’mores!
*Note about cake: to make a plain chocolate snack cake, prepare an 8×8 square pan or a 9″ round pan by spraying with baking spray with flour, pour batter into pan and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes. You can either leave it in the pan and allow to cool completely, then just serve from the pan, or you can cool on rack in pan for 10 minutes, then invert it onto the rack and allow to cool completely. Sprinkle with powdered sugar for a simple weeknight dessert, or frost with about a cup of whatever frosting you’d like.
**Note about egg whites: I’m always looking for things to do with my egg yolks, and vice-versa. You can store yolks in the fridge for up to two days, covered with water. You can store whites in the fridge for up to 4 days, or freeze them for a year! Anyway, here’s an idea for your yolks: meyer lemon bars...I made them, and they’re fantastic!!