Category: glaze

Strawberry jam brioche rolls.

Strawberry jam rolls, brioche-style.

We’re in full-on spring mode now, right? The sun has been out & we’ve been gardening & sprucing up the outdoor areas. And of course there’s tons of sprouts growing in the yard! No more snow on the horizon.

One of the main things that makes me think of spring & summer is jam. Making it, canning it, baking with it. Last year I made a jammy version of strawberry shortcakes, so this year I thought I’d do something new with strawberry jam: a brioche-y type roll filled with it!

Like a jelly roll, but with jam, and individually sized. The dough is incredibly easy to make, the jam can be store-bought or homemade (homemade takes NO TIME at all), and they come together very simply.

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Brown butter donuts? Vanilla bean glaze? YES.

WARNING: These donuts are CRAZY.

I wasn’t even going to post them. Not really. I made them for Jay’s partner who helped him out moving some stuff, and because they were so insane I decided I had to make them again & post them for you. Seriously.

I also upped the ante a bit.

Brown butter donuts with a thick vanilla bean glaze!

See… the first time I made them I made a regular vanilla bean glaze. Half a bean scraped into some milk & confectioner’s sugar. Bam. It was delicious. Jay’s partner loved ‘em, we loved ‘em.

But I knew that it could be BETTER.

Brown butter donuts with vanilla bean glaze. They're baked, so they're good for you. Right?

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The perfect November pound cake.

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Ah, November. You crept up on me this year. I wasn’t expecting you so soon! It seems like literally yesterday I was posting on the first day of October. And I’m still in Halloween-mode, to be honest. Mainly because I feel like there was no Halloween. Hurricane Sandy came & that was that. I just got power back last night- I had been without power since Monday night! But the calendar doesn’t care what I’m thinking, does it? No it doesn’t. Nor does Mother Nature. If you can spare a few bucks, or some pocket change, please donate to the Red Cross & help those affected by Hurricane Sandy. I’m lucky to have power, food & a house. Not everyone is. Please help feed, clothe and shelter your fellow human being in need.

I’ve mentioned before that when you’ve got a food blog, or you just bake often, you get a lot of requests. My dad always wants lasagna or blueberry cake/pie/cupcakes, Jay always wants beer bread, maple cookies or applesauce cake (even in the middle of summer), my aunt wants strawberry jam, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on. And my mother…. well, my mother usually has an entire list of things. I’m forever getting e-mails from her that contain recipes, or recipe ideas. Sometimes it’s subtle, sometimes it’s just outright- “Hey, make this for me?” And that means that a good percentage of the time, I’m making things I don’t really like or I wouldn’t eat. Which is fine by me. Not only does it give me more blogging material, it spices things up a bit. Who wants to make the same vanilla cupcakes over & over?

So when I’m presented with an opportunity to use cranberries & orange in something, I jump at it. It’s November, guys. It’s cranberry time.

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This is all Entenmann’s fault. When I was a kid growing up, Entenmann’s baked goods were the bomb dot com. Everyone- I mean everyone- had an Entenmann’s cake or box of donuts in their kitchen. The glazed Pop’Ems, the marshmallow iced devil’s food cake, the Holiday butter cookies, the French all butter crumb cake…

Entenmann’s is a company that is over 100 years old and originated in New York. In the 1800s, William Entenmann immigrated to New York in the United States of America. William learned the trade of baking from his father in Stuttgart, Germany, and used his acquired skills to work in a bakery in the United States, eventually opening his own bakery in 1898 on Rogers Avenue in Brooklyn.[1] Later, William moved his bakery to Bay Shore, Long Island. Home-delivery was a substantial part of the bakery that William owned, eventually turning into 30 home delivery routes by the time his son, William Jr., took over the bakery.[1] While William Jr. headed the bakery, it flourished; Frank Sinatra was a weekly customer.[1]

William Jr. died in 1951 leaving the bakery to his wife Martha and their sons, Robert, Charles and William. The family decided to phase out bread, focus on pastries and cakes, and start supplying grocery stores as opposed to home delivering. In 1959 the Entenmann family invented the “see-through” cake box that is used by many today.[2] In 1961, the business grew, with new bakeries and factories in Bay Shore, New Jersey and Connecticut.

Plans to expand nationally stalled in 1970. Entenmann’s Bakery, with the assistance of new product consultants at Calle & Company reformulated heavier New England style baked goods into lighter offerings more suitable for hotter, more humid test markets such as Miami, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. Entenmann’s successful national expansion quickly followed suit. In 1972, Entenmann’s started to sell chocolate chip cookies and has since sold more than 620 million cookies.[2] Since its first opening in 1898, Entenmann’s has been selling “all butter loaf cake” and sold more than 700 million to date.

The pharmaceutical company Warner-Lambert purchased Entenmann’s in 1978 and sold it to General Foods in 1982. General Foods merged with Kraft in 1990. Kraft sold its bakery business to CPC International (later Bestfoods). Bestfoods was purchased by Unilever in 2000, which sold its baking division to George Weston, a Canadian baked goods and supermarket business, the next year. Weston sold its United States interests including Entemann’s in 2008 to Mexican conglomerate Grupo Bimbo. Other Bimbo Bakeries USA holdings include companies such as Thomas’, Brownberry, Boboli, Arnold, Oroweat, Freihofer’s, and Stroehmann.[3]

-Wikipedia

A couple of weeks ago, I was food shopping with my mother. She had hurt her ankle, & was limping along with my assistance. She spotted the Entenmann’s display and made a beeline for it. My mom is a big fan of anything sweet; baked goods, cookies, candy, candy bars, etc. So she saw the display, and immediately zoned in on the seasonal Cranberry Orange loaf. She picked it up and I said, “No, ma, really. Come on. I can make that for you.” She initially resisted a bit, there were a few longing looks (and I think she might have said, “Are you sure?”… what is THAT about!?), but then she gave in. There is no bigger insult to someone like me than a family member buying a supermarket cake or box of cookies. At least buy stuff from a bakery. Just please don’t buy the styrofoam cupcakes that Costco sells. I’d permit Entenmann’s… in certain dire circumstances… but seriously… I bake ALL THE TIME. How are you gonna be in the supermarket with me & pick up BOXED CAKE. No. No, no, no.

I know she really wanted that cake. But mom, why buy it when I can make it for you!? And… uh… make it better.

;

‘Cause see, the Entenmann’s cake might be scrumptious. But it doesn’t come with an orange butter rum sauce on top, which mine does.

And just so you know- that brown Kraft paper makes things a hell of a lot easier to clean up. Especially when you’re using a messy sauce or glaze & want to take photos (or maybe if you have kids… *cough*). I highly recommend it. Plus it’s great not only as a “tablecloth”, but as wrapping paper. A gift wrapped with Kraft paper, twine & some dehydrated citrus slices is rustically beautiful. Even to give this loaf as a gift, it’s a great wrapping idea. Okay, sorry- back to the cake!

CRANBERRY ORANGE LOAF CAKE

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 2-3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons grated orange peel
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries*

Directions:

  1. Butter and flour a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan, set aside. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, orange juice and orange peel. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Fold in cranberries.
  3. Pour into the greased pan. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Spoon orange butter rum sauce (if desired) over the top. Wait 3-5 minutes for it to set, then serve.
*You could use fresh cranberries too (& you can also toss in some walnuts, or even unsalted shelled pistachios, if you like)

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ORANGE BUTTER RUM SAUCE

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar

Directions:

  1. Add the orange juice, flour, sugar and heavy cream to a medium saucepan. Cook (constantly stirring) on medium heat until combined, then add the butter.
  2. Stir until the butter is melted, combined, and the mixture is thickened. Add the rum. Continue cooking until thick & smooth. Stir it constantly while it cooks, or it’ll scorch & burn.
  3. Remove from heat, and let sit 5 minutes.
  4. Spoon over pound cake.

The butter rum sauce isn’t terribly attractive on it’s own, but it tastes spectacular. Especially on the cake.

;

The cake is moist & delicious, not too much cake-y, not too much bread-y. Just perfectly in the middle of a pound cake & loaf cake. Just as good in the morning as it is at night.

And here’s a little tip. If you’re making this for a large crowd, you can double the recipe and make it in one 10″ tube pan, or just double it and make two 9″ loaf pans. The same goes for most pound or loaf cakes, or even regular cakes, actually. Here’s a conversion table for pan sizes. And most cupcake recipes that make 2 dozen will also make two 9″ cake layers. Same goes for the reverse: if you find a recipe that calls for a bundt pan or tube pan and you only want to make a small cake, then you can usually halve it (or in some cases maybe quarter it), and most layer cake recipes will convert into 2 dozen cupcakes (sometimes a little more). This particular recipe would definitely be amazing doubled and made in a 10″ pan, a great Thanksgiving dessert. But this way, it’d make a great Thanksgiving breakfast. Keep the sauce on the side if you want, that way people who aren’t into rum sauce for breakfast can avoid it. But seriously? It’s a holiday. You can so have rum sauce with breakfast!

And before I go, just a reminder. Make sure that all you U.S. citizens who are registered to vote get your asses to the polls on Tuesday! It’s important, and it’s something we’re privileged to be able to do. I really don’t care who you vote for… just vote. And if you aren’t registered: for shame. But consider this a kick in the booty to register for next time. And I know it’s going to be hard for those displaced by Sandy, but there are still places for you to vote. Pass this info & this info on if you know someone affected by this tragedy, please. The election will NOT be postponed because of the hurricane, so we need to get out there & get people voting.

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Fi, fie, fo, fum, I smell soda cake & Jameson.

Sometimes when I make Irish soda cake, I feel like I’m in the story Jack in the Beanstalk & I’m Jack, but everyone around me are the giants. It’s so amazing, and it smells so good, that people just go nuts for it. I think if I fell on the floor & was unconscious, they’d step over me to grab a piece. I’m serious. And I don’t really blame them. Don’t believe me? Check this out. Chrisie told me she loves my Irish soda cake and she even took to Facebook & elaborated on how much:

I guess that means she really likes it. See what she said about the tea-soaked raisins? It gave me an idea. Now me personally? I’m not into raisins. I did like the California Raisins, though. But anyway, I thought of her tea-soaked raisins which made me think of rum-raisin, and then my brain went straight to Jameson Irish whiskey. And then it went to Jameson-soaked raisins. I wasn’t going to put them in the cake, but on top. And I decided, like Chrisie, to make the cake into little muffins or cupcakes. Then I’d top them with a vanilla-Jameson glaze & some Irish whiskey-soaked golden raisins.

Shut the front door, right?

And yes, I left some plain with just a nice, sugary crust on top.

IRISH SODA MUFFINCAKES WITH JAMESON-SOAKED RAISINS & JAMESON GLAZE

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp. baking soda
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsps. melted shortening (or butter)
  • 1 cup buttermilk

Directions:

  1. Make wet dough: mix salt, baking powder, baking soda, flour and sugar. Beat eggs lightly and add melted shortening and buttermilk.
  2. Mix all together until combined. If too watery, add a bit more flour. If too thick, add a bit more buttermilk.
  3. Prepare a muffin tin with liners. Fill each liner with two-three tablespoons of batter.
  4. Before putting in the oven, sprinkle sugar on top (if not using the raisins & glaze).
  5. Bake at 375 degrees° F for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

JAMESON-SOAKED RAISINS

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup golden raisins
  • 3-4 tablespoons Jameson Irish Whiskey (enough to cover the raisins)

Directions:

  1. Place raisins in a small bowl and pour whiskey over them.
  2. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to sit in a cool, dry place for about a half hour, 45 minutes.
  3. When ready to use, remove raisins using a small strainer to remove excess whiskey. Use the whiskey in a drink or even in the glaze (below).

JAMESON WHISKEY GLAZE

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons Jameson Irish whiskey (or whatever brand you prefer), you can use whatever is left after the raisins have soaked too
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. For glaze, pour sugar & Jameson into a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat; boil rapidly for 1 full minute. Remove from heat, whisk in butter & vanilla. Let set to thicken slightly for a few minutes. Place raisins on top of the muffins. Using a spoon, drizzle glaze over cooled muffincakes, making sure to cover the raisins.

Forreals, yo.

I prefer to use golden raisins on these because let’s face it- regular raisins can look like mouse crap. Sorry if that ruined your appetite, haha. And of course, the colors of the golden raisins go better with the color of the cakes and the green liners anyway. Those fancy “ruffled” liners are by Wilton. I baked the muffincakes in regular white liners, then put them in the fancier ones after they’d cooled.

So basically, feedback on these has been “holy balls” & “wow” & statements along those lines. I didn’t have any, ’cause like I said, I don’t like raisins. But.. if you want to be on a super Jameson kick, then pair these with some Irish coffee. Or Irish coffee my way, which is coffee with milk & sugar & Jameson, then topped with whipped cream.

Eat now. Repent later.

So Mardi Gras 2012 is upon us. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Despite not being religious, French/Creole/Spanish (well I am a smidgen French, but not really enough to claim it) or from New Orleans, I love Mardi Gras. I love the colors, the parades, the partying, the food. Fat Tuesday (or Shrove Tuesday as my grandma & the old schoolers called it) was always one of the funnest part of being in Catholic school; pancakes & a party all day! Other than that, a lot of time in Catholic school is spent… well, being all Catholic.

However I can get down with the “Eat now, repent later” bit, for sure. As a matter of fact, I prefer “Eat now, repent never” even better. As a matter of fact… I don’t quite believe in repenting at all, unless you commit a real sin. Like throwing away good food. Or murder. You know.

The terms “Mardi Gras” (play /ˈmɑrdiɡrɑː/), “Mardi Gras season“, and “Carnival season“,[1][2][3][4][5] in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday; in English the day is sometimes referred to as Shrove Tuesday, from the word shrive, meaning “confess.”[6] Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

In many areas, the term “Mardi Gras” has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. In some US cities, it is now called “Mardi Gras Day” or “Fat Tuesday”.[1][2][3][4][5] The festival season varies from city to city, as some traditions consider Mardi Gras the entire period between Epiphany or Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday.[7] Others treat the final three-day period before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras.[8] In Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras-associated social events begin in November, followed by mystic society balls on Thanksgiving,[7][9] then New Year’s Eve, followed by parades and balls in January and February, celebrating up to midnight before Ash Wednesday. In earlier times parades were held on New Year’s Day.[7] Other cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Barranquilla, Colombia, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Quebec City, Canada; Mazatlán, Sinaloa in Mexico; and New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

Carnival is an important celebration in Anglican and Catholic European nations.[6] In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the week before Ash Wednesday is called “shrovetide“, ending on Shrove Tuesday. It has its popular celebratory aspects as well. Pancakes are a traditional food. Pancakes and related fried breads or pastries made with sugar, fat and eggs are also traditionally consumed at this time in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

So basically, you can have King’s Cakes (or cupcakes in my case), Bananas Foster (or the cupcake equivalent) or beignets. Or you can just make some pancakes, if you’re the simple type. But this year I made up some sweet rolls. Sweet, yeasty rolls with a brightly colored confectioner’s sugar glaze.

I’m going to say these are super quick & easy to make, and I hope you believe me. ‘Cause they really are. I made the dough the night before (which took about 5 minutes), let it chill overnight and then made them the next day. In what seemed like no time at all I was shoving them in my fat face.

MARDI GRAS SWEET ROLLS (adapted from a recipe by Oxmoor House)

Ingredients:

Rolls:
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • ¼ cup warm water (105° to 115°)
  • 3 ⅔ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ⅓ cup melted unsalted butter
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Icing:
  • 1 ¼ cups sifted confectioner’s sugar
  • 3-6 tablespoons milk
  • small dab each yellow, green & purple Wilton icing gel food coloring

Directions:

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Combine flour, ½ cup sugar, and salt in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, stirring well. Combine sour cream, butter, and eggs, stirring well. Add dissolved yeast mixture and sour cream mixture to dry ingredients. Beat at medium speed about 2 minutes or until smooth. Cover tightly, and chill 8 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°. Divide dough in half; shape half of dough into 12 (2-inch) balls, smoothing out tops. Place 2 inches apart on a baking sheet* coated with cooking spray. Repeat procedure with remaining dough. Cover and let rise 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
  3. Bake rolls at 350° for 20 minutes or until very lightly browned. Let cool slightly, but not completely, before frosting.
  4. Combine powdered sugar,and milk in a bowl; beat at medium speed of a mixer until smooth. Divide into three separate bowls, stir the food coloring into each bowl, creating three colors. Spread 2 teaspoons frosting on each roll while still warm. Best served warm.

*I used a pie plate, because it was a dark aubergine/purple color and looked pretty for the presentation. Depending on the amount of rolls you have, you can use a cookie sheet, glass baking dish or round cake pan (or two) as well.

You may notice in the directions I say to use a stand mixer. This is because I found a dough hook to be 100% necessary with this dough. I also had to sprinkle a little extra flour in to smooth it out, otherwise it was pretty sticky & didn’t get “smooth” enough. If you have a hand mixer that’s powerful & has a dough hook attachment, then that’s your decision. I personally did not try my new hand mixer out on these.

The frosting, the way I made it, is a messy, crazy, delicious Crayola color-fest. I thought it appropriate since Mardi Gras is all about the fun, the gaudyness & lots of bright color. You can tone it down if you prefer, or just use the icing without color and sprinkle colored sugar in green, purple and yellow on top of it. It’s up to you, although it also depends on the type of food coloring you use. Americolor & Wilton are very bright, but the supermarket brands sometimes require more in order to give you that oomph. So why do we use these particular colors for mardi gras?

6: What is the significance of the Mardi Gras colors, and where did they come from?

A: Rex, the King of Carnival, selected the Mardi Gras colors and assigned meaning to them in 1892. Purple stands for justice, green for faith, and gold for power.

-Source

I halved this recipe and got around 9 rolls (some larger than others because I have a terrible time eyeballing dough size!). If you like, you can add a little lemon zest to the dough, but I liked it just the way it was. Also, you can totally omit the glaze and either have them plain or just brush them with some melted butter as soon as they come out of the oven; you’ll have a delicious alternative that can be served with any meal, any time of year- not just on Fat Tuesday.

But I rather like my messy, brightly iced, irregular-shaped sweet rolls.

Eye of newt & toe of frog.

This year for Halloween, when it came to edibles, I was 100% inspired by Martha’s Halloween issue. Literally, 100%. I found the perfect cupcakes for Halloween, not to mention other treats & ideas that I just had to make (see picture on the right). Some of them you’ve already seen (like the pumpkin cupcakes, or the candy apples with witches’ attached!), but these are the pièce de résistance, if you will. Gorgeous green pistachio eye-of-newt & toe-of-frog cupcakes, complete with chocolate frogs! As soon as I saw them I just knew they’d be absolutely amazing, not to mention they’d look perfect on my table for Halloween. I told you I was completely inspired *ahem* by Queen Martha’s Halloween issue this year, didn’t I? I know I must have. Like I said, I haven’t had an original cupcaking thought in my pretty head all season, sadly. I’ve also been nursing a wicked painful back lately, which is actually most inopportune for a lot of reasons- but such is life when you get old like me you’ve got a chronic back problem, and on top of that I’ve been fighting (and losing) a battle with a hardcore cold. Bottom line is I needed some ideas. These cupcakes jumped out at me; regardless of what plans I had for Halloween these babies were going to be on the menu. Ghastly, ghostly, sickly green cupcakes accompanied by my lovely skull (with his friend The Rat & Mr. Tarantula), not to mention some extra (kinda cute) edible ‘croaking’ friends. I usually make cupcakes frosted high with tufts of perfectly piped buttercream… but not this time.

This time I wasn’t going to be frosting the little green-ish cakes, but glazing them in two different shades of green goo. Sounds yummy, right? Haha. At Halloween, anything is acceptable! And honestly, how could I possibly name them anything other than ‘Eye of Newt & Toe of Frog‘ cupcakes? I could not. I would be doing a disservice to my literary education as well as underestimating (or rather under-using) my quick wit.

So like any good witch would do, I took a break from drinking Egyptian Licorice tea, blowing my nose & rubbing Tylenol Precise on my back (sexy, I know), took out my magical mixer, Lola, and started to create some evil, er, delicious cupcakes. Lola may be pink, but she’s pretty diabolical. Together we whipped up some rather eerie yet delicious green-tinted pistachio cakes with green glaze & little frogs. The chocolate frogs are made from frog-shaped candy molds. I used chocolate Candy Melts (and Spooky Green colored melts to make the dots on them) and then brushed them with green pearl dust when they were cooled.

The irony is, my dad’s birthday is the 29th of October, so every year I try to make a big batch of cupcakes & use half for his birthday, half for Halloween. Some years it doesn’t quite work out, and I end up making two batches anyway. But it just so happens that this year he requested pistachio cupcakes weeks before Halloween, and I never mentioned the fact I had planned on making these. So killing two birds with one stone made everyone a happy camper this year. And who wouldn’t love chocolate frogs!? Even Harry Potter likes chocolate frogs! They’re clearly magical.

What an amazing looking set of cupcakes these turned out to be! And moist. And tasty. Who doesn’t love pistachio? I admittedly amped up the ‘nut’ flavor with some almond extract myself (which I included in the recipe below), but if you’re a purist you can just use a full 2 teaspoons vanilla.

EYE OF NEWT & TOE OF FROG CUPCAKES (adapted very slightly from Martha Stewart’s Halloween magazine ‘pistachio cupcakes’, 2011)

Makes 36

Ingredients:

  • 14 ounces unsalted shelled pistachios (about 1 ¾ cups)
  • 1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon coarse salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line 36 cups of standard muffin tins with paper liners. Coarsely chop ¾ cup pistachios, and reserve. In a food processor, grind remaining pistachios to a paste.
  2. With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, beat butter, cream cheese, and pistachio paste until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Gradually add sugar; beat until smooth, scraping sides of bowl as needed. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating until each is incorporated, and scraping sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla & almond extracts. Reduce speed to low. Add flour & salt, beating until just combined. Fold in chopped pistachios by hand.
  3. Divide batter among lined cups, filling each almost ¾ full. Bake, rotating pans halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. (Cupcakes can be stored up to 1 day at room temperature, or frozen up to 2 months, in airtight containers.)
  4. Place on wire racks that are over rimmed cookie sheets. Drizzle lighter glaze (see below) over each, let set until no longer tacky, 30 to 60 minutes. Drizzle with darker glaze, allowing the lighter to show around the edges, let set before decorating with chocolate frogs. Serve & enjoy.

GHASTLY GREEN GLAZE

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • ⅔ cup milk
  • Gel-paste food coloring in Moss Green, Brown, Juniper Green and Royal Blue (all Wilton)

Directions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and milk until smooth & combined. Transfer half to another bowl.
  2. For lighter green glaze (base color), add 4 drops Moss Green & 2 drops Brown food coloring to one bowl; stir to combine, adding more of each color until desired shade is reached.
  3. For the darker glaze (top color), add 4 drops Juniper Green, 2 drops Royal Blue and 1 drop Brown to the second bowl; stir to combine. Adjust by adding more until desired shade is reached. Use immediately (above).

I bought my pistachios at Trader Joe’s because they’re the only place that sells unshelled pistachios (other than perhaps Whole Foods, but Trader Joe’s is closer to me). The frogs Martha uses are from Black Dinah Chocolatiers. I, however, made my own. Like I said above, I bought a frog candy mold (slightly bigger than the Black Dinah “froglets”) and used Candy Melts to create the frogs. Do as you wish in that department. I also used slightly different colors of Wilton gel-paste food coloring (just the greens) for the glazes. I couldn’t find Juniper Green & didn’t want to order it online, so I used two other Wilton greens I already had. It worked just fine.

And also I carved my jack-o-lantern! I screwed up a bit, it’s supposed to be Jack Skellington but I broke two carving saws doing it & so he’s not the best. I had further plans for it, but like I said, I broke the tools & it was around midnight, so here it is. Not perfect. I’m a perfectionist, though, so it’s disappointing. Boo (pun intended). But it came out pretty decent, either way, better than a lot I’ve seen. And I roasted the seeds with Kosher salt & olive oil. Mmm. That makes up for any mistakes, right?

In case you aren’t aware, the phrase “eye of newt & toe of frog” is Shakespearean. It comes from the same text as “double, double, toil & trouble” and “something wicked this way comes”, also very popular terminology in modern vernacular… all of which just so happens to be from William Shakespeare’s Macbeth. I’m 100% certain most people who use these terms haven’t a clue what their origins are. However I do, and it’s one of my absolute favorite literary classics. Anyway, the line about newts & frogs is from the part where the Three Witches (or “Weird Sisters”) are concocting a spell in the final scene. For those of you who slept through high school English class, here’s the full excerpt:


1 WITCH. Thrice the brinded cat hath mew’d.
2 WITCH. Thrice and once, the hedge-pig whin’d.
3 WITCH. Harpier cries:—’tis time! ’tis time!
1 WITCH. Round about the caldron go;
In the poison’d entrails throw.—
Toad, that under cold stone,
Days and nights has thirty-one;
Swelter’d venom sleeping got,
Boil thou first i’ the charmed pot!
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting,
Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing,—
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.

ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
3 WITCH. Scale of dragon; tooth of wolf;
Witches’ mummy; maw and gulf
Of the ravin’d salt-sea shark;
Root of hemlock digg’d i the dark;
Liver of blaspheming Jew;
Gall of goat, and slips of yew
Sliver’d in the moon’s eclipse;
Nose of Turk, and Tartar’s lips;
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver’d by a drab,—
Make the gruel thick and slab:
Add thereto a tiger’s chaudron,
For the ingrediants of our caldron.
ALL. Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn, and caldron bubble.
2 WITCH. Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.


Those of you familiar with Shakespeare will align the image of the skull with another of his works, Hamlet. I guess these cupcakes are just totally Shakespearean! And now you know the origin of “double, double, toil and trouble.” Go impress your friends.

that ends our Halloween fare for the year (almost- bwahahahaha). I can’t believe in just 4 short days it’ll be Halloween- where the hell did the time go!? Insane. There might just be one more trick… or treat… before this month ends..

You’re a mother lover. I’m a mother lover.

We all (or at least most of us) love our moms, and want them to be happy. Because when mom is happy, the whole world is happy, right?

This year for Mother’s Day, my mom requested Boston Creme cupcakes, which I obliged. But I also surprised her with a totally different “surprise” cupcake that she wasn’t expecting at all- rose water cupcakes! So in this post, I’ll go into the how-to’s of both; just in case your mom is traditional… and just in case she’s open to cupcakes that might taste “like grandma’s powder room” (as I’ve heard/read rose water described as). Anyway, I surprised her with them on Wednesday night & she was so excited. She was only expecting the Boston Creme… muahahaha.

I’ve made Boston Cream cupcakes before, but the shortcut kind using vanilla pudding. These are far better, trust me. Although the shortcut ones are perfectly good, and they are great in a pinch. However, you gotta admit nothing beats from-scratch, 100% real pastry cream. I used a combination of whole milk and 2% milk in it and it worked out just fine. I also didn’t use vanilla bean, just a ½ teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.

BOSTON CREME CUPCAKES

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:
  • 1 ½ sticks of unsalted butter
  • 1 ¾ cups of sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons of pure vanilla
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
  • 2 ½ cups of flour
  • 1 ¼ cups of milk
Pastry Cream Filling:
  • 2 cups whole, 2% fat, or 1% fat milk
  • ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise, seeds scraped out
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
Ganache:
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate*
  • 1 cup heavy cream, boiling

Directions:

  1. Cupcakes: Beat butter and sugar well, then add the rest of the ingredients. Fill cups, and bake at 375° degrees for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool before filling.
  2. Pastry cream: In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to a boil over medium heat. Immediately turn off the heat and set aside to infuse for 10 to 15 minutes. In a bowl, whisk the egg yolks and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Add the cornstarch and whisk vigorously until no lumps remain. Whisk in ¼ cup of the hot milk mixture until incorporated. Whisk in the remaining hot milk mixture, reserving the empty saucepan.
  3. Pour the mixture through a strainer back into the saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and slowly boiling. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. Let cool slightly. Cover with plastic wrap, lightly pressing the plastic against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill at least 2 hours or until ready to serve. (The custard can be made up to 24 hours in advance. Refrigerate until 1 hour before using.)
  4. Ganache: In a medium bowl, pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate and stir until melted.
  5. To assemble, inject the cream filling into the cupcakes by either using a filled pastry bag fitted with a round tip or by coring out the centers using a round tip and filling the holes with cream using a teaspoon. Once done, dip the tops of each cupcake into the chocolate ganache, or as I did, drizzle it on the top using a spoon.

*I used 4 ounces milk chocolate and 4 ounces semi-sweet.

Brown cupcake liners from Cupcake Social

You will end up with more pastry cream and more ganache than you need, most likely. That said,  store them in the fridge and a few days later you can make more cupcakes, or you can make eclairs. Or, just double this cupcake recipe above if you want more than 2 dozen. Anyway, it takes a while to make ‘em, and there are a lot of steps, but they’re worth it! Sorry you can’t see the pastry cream filling very well there, when you cut ‘em the chocolate just gets all over. Which ain’t really a bad thing…

So yeah, those look great, and taste great. But they didn’t have any visual pizzazz; they just didn’t really look like Mother’s Day cakes to me (like these). I had some other ideas in mind… so far as they go, they’re rose water cupcakes, and they’re really easy. All I did was take a vanilla cupcake recipe, and add rose water instead of vanilla extract. Actually to be more specific, I replaced ¾ of the vanilla extract in the recipe with rose water, and left only the ¼ of vanilla. Ta-da! The frosting is a basic confectioner’s sugar buttercream that was also made with rose water (no vanilla). Of course, the icing color I used was Wilton icing colors in “rose pink.” The liners are little striped ones with teapots and cupcakes, so I thought “Tea Rose” cupcakes was an appropriate name. Especially what with my mother’s pink rose teapot in the background!

I use Nielsen-Massey pure rose water that Lyns from Sweet Cuppin’ Cakes Bakery & Cupcakery Supplies sent me a while back. I made the rose toppers from just Googling some Victorian rose clip-art. It’s amazing, isn’t it, that Google? The liners are from Michael’s. Ironically, my mother saw them & bought them for me.

So Hap-hap-happy Mother’s Day to all you beautiful mamas out there. We appreciate & love you!