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!

 

Best Pumpkin Pie

November 26, 2013

Best Pumpkin Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Pumpkin pie is one of my favorite pies, and we have them at our house more than just for Thanksgiving.   I like to use Joy of Cooking’s recipe, which yields a crispy, flaky crust, and custardy, delicious filling that’s not grainy or soggy.  The key is the blind-baked crust, which is pre-baking your pie crust lined with foil and pie weights.  I like to do this with all of my one-crust pies, ever since I read about it in Joy.  It really does produce superior results.

Blind Baking a Crust - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

 

Blind Baked Crust with Egg Wash - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Aunt Suzy says . . .

I have made only a few pumpkin pies in my time. It seems for holiday gatherings, others make the pumpkin and I bake apple or pecan-sweet potato pie – like this Thanksgiving!  And I usually follow Mom/Granny’s lead and use the recipe on the side of the can of pumpkin. 🙂  I’ve always been satisfied with the results, but then I’ve never had this version!  One thing I will say is that I think pumpkin pie is best made with canned pumpkin. Every time I’ve had it with fresh pumpkin puree, it seems watery. How about you Margaux? What are your thoughts on fresh vs. canned pumpkin?

Margaux says…

I definitely ALWAYS use canned pumpkin.  Not only does it seem watery with fresh, but often grainy and stringy.  Yuck.  It’s really not worth the extra step, because canned pumpkin is just that…pumpkin, no additives.  You would have to have commercial grade equipment to get it the consistency that canned is, which is perfect for pies.  I was happy to see that there was a little section about it in the November issue of Martha Stewart Living…their test kitchen came up with those same results.

Best Pumpkin Pie - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Blind Baked Pie Crust

1/2 recipe pastry dough, like this one

1 egg yolk

salt

Roll out pie dough.  Carefully place it in a 9″ pie plate, trim the edges leaving a 1″ hang over, fold it under and crimp.  Place in freezer and freeze for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Take pie shell out of freezer and cut a large piece of aluminum foil.  Place foil into pie plate, shiny side down, carefully pressing it into the corners and leaving a good amount hanging over the sides.  Fill with pie weights, dried beans or rice (I keep dried beans on hand and use them over and over again).  Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven, and carefully remove foil.  Prick crust all over with fork and put in oven again for another 5 minutes or so, until the crust is golden.  Meanwhile, beat egg yolk with a pinch of salt.  When crust is done, brush with egg yolk all over and bake for another minute or two, until the glaze is set.

Pumpkin Pie Filling

A note about eggs in the recipe: If you like your pie more custardy, use 3 eggs.  If you like a stronger pumpkin flavor and a denser filling, use only 2.  I like to use 3.

2-3 eggs (see note above)

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or half-and-half

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk eggs together in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

While mixture is sitting for a few minutes, place foil around the fluted edges of the crust (or use an aluminum pie sheild…one of my favorite kitchen gadgets).  Warm crust back up by placing it in the oven for 1-2 minutes, until it is hot to touch.  Pour filling into the hot crust, place in oven and bake for 40-50 minutes, until center seems set but quivery, like gelatin, when you tap the side of the dish.  Cool on a cooling rack to room temperature.  Serve within one day, store in the refrigerator.

Whipped Cream

1 cup cold heavy cream

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp sugar

Place all ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment.  Beat on medium high until soft peaks form, no longer.  Serve dollops on slices of pie.  Store remainder in refrigerator in airtight container.  Whip with a wire whisk for 10-15 seconds when ready to use again.

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.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

June 4, 2013

Black-Eyed Pea Salad - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I’m kind of a salad fanatic, and it’s one of the reasons I’m so excited about having warm weather finally! So far I’ve made this pasta salad, several quinoa salads, including this one and this (which is one of my favorites), and I can’t wait to make potato salads, especially this one. Platter salads are another favorite for us, and we’ve already had my favorite Cobb salad, even when it wasn’t that warm yet. I couldn’t wait.

This is a salad that has become kind of a summer standard here over the past few years. When my son was an infant and I was stuck to the couch for hours on end either nursing him or “napping” with him, I would watch endless amounts of TV, a lot of that being the Food Network. I’ve always liked cooking, but I think that’s when I really got my love of cooking, and I would try out tons of the recipes I saw on TV. This was one of them, on “The Neely’s” (a show I didn’t often watch, by the way, but I’m glad I caught this episode). I don’t really ever watch Food Network anymore, but I’m glad I did because a lot of my standard recipes came from that year of watching.

Black-Eyed Pea Salad

Ingredients
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
1 small red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar (I have also used white wine vinegar)
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, drained (or 4 cups soaked dried beans…I think that’s about a cup and a half of dried)

Directions
Combine the first 6 ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the rice wine vinegar, canola oil, sugar, and salt and pepper.
Toss all together and let marinate for at up to 8 hours in the refrigerator before serving.

Margaux says…

You can’t have Halloween without sugar cookie cut-outs.  Actually, you can’t have Christmas or Valentine’s Day without them either, if you ask me.  This sugar cookie recipe is my absolute favorite.  Aunt Suzy gave it to me when I was 11 years old…it came along with a bunch of other “must have” recipes, a recipe box (that I still use, by the way), a large pot for steaming or cooking pasta (which I also still have, and still use), and “how to cook” tapes made by her.  Other than the pasta cooker and the recipe box, this recipe is what I have used the most out of that gift. I love that she was the first person to get me interested in cooking! It was like we were destined to have a blog together someday (although, that word didn’t even exist in 1988).

I think this recipe is my favorite because of the addition of sour cream and nutmeg.  The cookies turn out crisp, but not too crisp, and have great flavor.  They’re perfect with vanilla frosting, which is what I prefer to use over royal icing or a powdered sugar and milk glaze-type icing.  They may not look as perfect with the frosting over the icing that turns hard and smooth, but they sure taste better!

Sugar Cookies

4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg. Set aside. Cream together butter, sugar, egg and vanilla. Add flour alternately with sour cream. Form dough into ball. Wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least 6 hours to overnight. Divide dough into 4 parts. Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, or grease them. Roll out dough to 1/4″ thick. Cut with cookie cutter. Bake plain or with sugar on top (if you’re not icing), 10-12 minutes. Remove from cookie sheets and cool on cooling rack. Frost.

Vanilla Frosting

4 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2-4 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla

Cream butter in stand mixer with paddle attachment. Add powdered sugar, beat until mixture is starting to clump together in pea-sized clumps. Add vanilla and 2 tbsp milk, beat on high speed until creamy and uniform (scrape down sides of bowl as needed). Add more milk if needed, and food coloring if desired. Frost cookies, let sit for about an hour so that the frosting will set (but it won’t get completely hard because of the butter). If adding sanding sugar or sprinkles, do so right away before the frosting gets a hard crust on top.

Crunchy Granola

September 4, 2011

Margaux says…

My Aunt Judy makes the most simple and amazing granola ever.  It’s the same recipe she’s been using since the 70’s, and she always has it on hand at her house.  She was my birth doula and came to stay with us for the last few weeks of my pregnancy, and the whole time she was with us (which ended up being about a month) she kept our supply stocked. It was so great to have every morning, with fresh fruit and yogurt!  It’s gotten so I can’t even eat store-bought granola anymore, I’ve become such a granola snob.  I try to keep it up, and make a batch as often as possible, but especially in the summer when fruit is in season and tastes oh-so-yummy with this salty sweet crunchy goodness.

Crunchy Granola

5 cups rolled oats
1 cup wheat germ or flax seed meal
1 cup large flake unsweetened coconut
1 cup cashews (or whatever nut you prefer)
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup dried fruit, like cranberries or raisins (optional…I do this in the winter when I eat it with milk instead of fresh fruit and yogurt)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup honey (or agave syrup)
1/3 cup water
1 1/2 tsp table salt
2 tbsp real maple syrup

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, minus the salt. Mix together honey, water, oil, salt and maple syrup. Pour over cereal and mix well. Bake in large jellyroll pan at 300 F for 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden brown. Let cool in the pan, then pour into an airtight container.

Classic Blueberry Pie

June 22, 2010

Margaux says

The first pie I ever made was blueberry.  It was for my dad’s birthday, when I was about 10 or 11 years old.  My dad was never a cake guy (except Texas cake, which we’ll definitely do a post about later…its a family staple), so I made him a pie.  Pie making is big on that side of my family, and my granny is known all over town for her amazing pies, especially the crust.  So I’d of course already had a lesson or two before my big day of making my first pie. The pie was probably ho-hum…I used canned blueberries (it was October, in a small Midwestern town, in the 80’s, so there were probably no fresh blueberries to be found), and my crust was pretty mediocre, but I was very proud of myself, and my love for baking began.

I really wanted to make a strawberry pie this week because we’re in the height of strawberry season, but the strawberries at my regular grocery store AND at Stanley’s (a fruit and vegetable market here in Chicago) were terrible looking! I was totally disappointed, but Stanley’s had giant flats of blueberries on sale for $2.49 so I got those instead. Since my original blueberry pie in the 80’s, I think I’ve made only one other one in my life…I prefer blueberries in small quantities, like in pancakes or muffins. But for $2.49, I thought, why not?

This recipe is also from Joy of Cooking…I use a lot of their pie recipes.  They are very simple and very good!

Blueberry Pie

Prepare pie crust.  Roll half the dough into a 13″ round, fit into a 9″ pie pan, and trim the overhanging dough to 3/4″ all around.  Refrigerate.  Roll the other half of the dough into a 12″ round for the top crust and refrigerate it.  Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Combine and let stand for 15 minutes:

5 cups fresh blueberries, picked over
3/4 to 1 cup sugar
3 1/2 to 4 tbsp quick-cooking tapioca or cornstarch (use cornstarch for a lattice pie)
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp salt

Pour the mixture into the bottom crust and dot with:

1 to 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Brush the overhanging edge of the bottom crust with cold water. Cover with the top crust of lattice, then seal the edge, trim, and crimp or flute. If using a closed top crust, cut stem vents. Bake the pie for 30 minutes. Slip a baking sheet beneath it, reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake until thick juices bubble through the vents, 25 to 35 minutes. Let cool completely on a rack. The pie is best the day it is baked, but it can be stored at room temperature for up to one day.

I wanted to do a lattice top for this because baked blueberries are such a beautiful color.  Unfortunately, right when it was time to start the assembly, Desi decided he was ready for a nap.  So I did the short-cut version, which is laying all the strips one way, then laying the other strips right on top instead of weaving them in.  My strips are crooked, too…blame Desi for a not-perfect pie.  It tasted good, though!

Pie is best served with vanilla ice cream!  Yum!