Coconut Vanilla Bean Cupcakes - Sweet and Savory Kitchens
Margaux says…

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 - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Coconut Vanilla Bean Cupcakes

Reduced coconut milk:

2 13-to 14-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk

Cupcakes:

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

Frosting:

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.

For cupcakes:

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.

For frosting:

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.

Golden Yellow Cupcakes with Milk Chocolate Frosting - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

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 - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

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!

 

Caramel Apple Cake

October 18, 2013

 

Caramel Apple Cake - Sweet and Savory KitchensCaramel Apple Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

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.

apple cake - sweet and savory kitchens

caramel glaze - sweet and savory kitchens

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

3 eggs

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.

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.

Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

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.

World's Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

IMG_0255

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.

Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

World's Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

TIPS AND TRICKS:

There’s a few things that I’ve learned after making this cake numerous times.
flour and cocoa

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.

batter

chocolate cake batter

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.

preparing to frost

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

The 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.

The frosting:

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.

add powdered sugar to frosting

making frosting

chocolate frosting

World's Best Chocolate Cake

Strawberry Coconut Cake

June 17, 2012

 

Margaux says…

I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but I made a boxed cake today.  This is the first boxed cake I have bought since I was in high school, I think!  Ok, let’s start from the beginning: I pinned this cake on Pinterest, not even looking at the recipe first, because it was so pretty.  Who isn’t attracted to a bright pink cake?  Plus, I love coconut.  Then I realized that it was with a white cake mix and a package of jello, and I thought, well, I’ll just do it from scratch instead someday.  Fast forward to today, Father’s Day, and me asking my husband what he wants for his Father’s Day “treat.”  He didn’t really have any idea, so I took him to my “baking” pinboard on Pinterest, and he picked this cake!  (Shows what I know…I thought for sure he would pick a pie, or the ice cream cake that I’ve been dying to make.)  Ok, it’s 85 degrees outside, and I’m 7 months pregnant…boxed cake mix it is!  Plus, I realized that the original recipe is from Joy the Baker‘s website, who I trust for cakes (I’ve made quite a few of hers), so I figured, how bad could it be if she likes it?

The cake mix is seriously doctored, and the frosting is KILLER, so you can’t really tell it’s from a mix.  Well, actually, I could, but everyone else that was scarfing it down said they couldn’t.  I felt a little betrayed, actually.  All the hard work I put into my cakes, and my family loves the doctored-up cake mix just as much.

Strawberry Coconut Cake

adapted from Joy the Baker

1 (18.5 ounce) box white cake mix (without pudding)

1 (3 ounce) package strawberry jello

1 Tablespoon self rising flour

4 teaspoons granulated sugar

3/4 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

1/2 cup water

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1/3 cup fresh strawberries, finely diced.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

To make the cake, combine to cake mix, Jello, flour and sugar in a large bowl.  Mix well.  Add the oil.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition  Add the water, coconut extract and strawberries and mix well.  Divide the batter evenly into three 8-inch round baking pans that have been oiled and floured.  Bake for 25-35 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the cakes comes out clean and the layers pull away from the sides of the pan.

Transfer the layers from the oven to wire racks.  Let them cool, still in their pans, for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, run a knife around the inside edge of each pan, then unmold each layer onto the racks to cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, softened

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened

2 (1 pound) boxes powdered sugar

pinch of salt

1 tsp pure coconut extract

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

pink food coloring

4 sliced strawberries

To make the frosting, in a bowl combine the cream cheese and butter.  Beat until soft and pliable and no lumps remain.  Add one box of the powdered sugar, salt and coconut extract.  Beat until incorporated.  Add the second box of sugar and mix until incorporated.  If you would like a smoother consistency, and a slash of milk.  If you would like a thicker consistency, and a bit more powdered sugar until the desired consistency is achieved.

Put the coconut in a small bowl and sprinkle with two or three drops of pink die.  Mix with hands to distribute the color and wash hands immediately.  Once the cake is frosted, decorate the top of the cake with the shredded coconut and sliced strawberries.

Hummingbird Cake

June 10, 2012

Margaux says…

I came across this recipe on the Martha Stewart website last year, and have been looking for an excuse to make it.  Last weekend I got the opportunity…my Aunt Annie got married and we had a small outdoor reception for her, and it seemed the perfect venue for this cake.  I’m SO glad that I chose this cake, because I ended up only having a few hours in the morning to throw it together, and it’s one of the easiest cakes I’ve ever made!!  It calls for self-rising flour, which I have never used in my life, but is apparently extremely popular in the South, especially for use in cakes.  I have to say, I’m sold on it.

Hummingbird cake is a very popular cake in the South…one of my aunts told me that she read that it is “Southern Living” magazine’s most requested recipe of all time–not cake recipe, but overall most requested recipe.  It’s said to have originated in Jamaica, where the hummingbird (or, Dr. Bird)  is one of the national symbols.   In 1978, a Mrs. L.H. Wiggins of Greensboro, N.C., submitted the recipe to Southern Living magazine, and the cake became renowned.  The true origin of the cake, or the cake name, is not known.  One theory is that it gets its name from being so sweet, that people are drawn to it the way hummingbirds are drawn to sweet sugared water.  On Martha Stewart’s website, it says that it might be so named because each bite “makes you hum with delight.”  It is quite often served at potlucks, or covered dish gatherings, because it’s so sweet that the servings need to be very small, so it serves plenty of people.  Most importantly, we all loved it, and I will definitely be making it again.  It indeed is extremely sweet, but absolutely delicious, and a great alternative for family get-togethers!  Another nice thing about it is that it is an oil cake rather than butter, so it can be refrigerated and not lose it’s original moist texture.  This makes it a great cake for summer, too!

Hummingbird Cake

Paula Deen’s recipe, found on MarthaStewart.com

  • For The Cake

    • Nonstick vegetable spray
    • All-purpose flour, for pans
    • 3 cups self-rising flour
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
    • 2 very ripe large bananas, mashed
    • 1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple, with juice
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • For The Frosting

    • 1 pound (1 box) confectioners’ sugar
    • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
    • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 tablespoon milk, or more if needed
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray and flour three 8-by-2-inch round cake pans, tapping out excess flour; set aside.
  2. Prepare the cake; in a large bowl, stir to combine self-rising flour, sugar, oil, pecans, bananas, pineapple, vanilla, cinnamon, and eggs.
  3. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans, smoothing with an offset spatula. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until the tops spring back when gently pressed with your fingertips, 26 to 28 minutes.
  4. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto wire rack. Re-invert cakes and let them cool completely, top sides up.
  5. Prepare the frosting; in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and 1 tablespoon milk on medium speed until frosting is smooth. If needed, add more milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, to achieve the proper spreading consistency.
  6. Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to make level. Place four strips of parchment paper around perimeter of a serving plate or lazy Susan. Place the first layer on the cake plate. Spread the top of the first layer with 1/4 of the frosting. Place the second layer on top and repeat process with another 1/4 of the frosting. Place the remaining layer on top of the second layer bottom side up. Spread entire cake with remaining frosting. Sprinkle the top with pecans. Remove parchment paper strips; refrigerate until ready to serve.

Red Velvet Cupcakes

October 30, 2011

Margaux says . . .

We have a real problem of loving things that we know are bad for us.  There really doesn’t need to be 3 oz. of red food dye in these cupcakes….they would be just as wonderful without it.  But we still do it, and it’s still one of the most popular cupcake flavors out there.  Every bakery I go to has red velvet, front and center, and I’m willing to bet they’re a best seller.  We taste with our eyes first, and that’s what makes these so tempting (and knowing that yummy cream cheese frosting is on top helps, too).

I’ve tried several different red velvet recipes, and I think this one is the best.  It has more cocoa in it than other recipes, which I prefer.  Because of the extra cocoa, it also has more dye, though, but you could definitely use less if you want.

I think red velvet is a perfect Halloween cupcake flavor…you’re biting into bloody cake, and the topping is white, so there are all kinds of decorating options.  I decided on skeletons this year, to match my son’s costume.  They turned out pretty cute, thanks to my mom, and with the help of Desi.  🙂

Red Velvet Cupcakes

adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Makes 36 cupcakes

3 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 cups canola oil
2 1/4 cups superfine sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) red food coloring or 1 teaspoon red gel food coloring dissolved in 6 tablespoons of room temp. water
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/4 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake pans with cupcake papers.

2. Whisk cake flour, cocoa and salt in a bowl.

3. Place oil and sugar in bowl of an electric mixer and beat at medium speed until well-blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. With machine on low, very slowly add red food coloring. (Take care: it may splash.) Add vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk in two batches. Scrape down bowl and beat just long enough to combine.

4. Place baking soda in a small dish, stir in vinegar and add to batter with machine running. Beat for 10 seconds.

5. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, place in oven and bake until a cake tester comes out clean, 18 to 24 minutes. Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Then remove from pans, and cool completely on cooling racks.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.