Category: icing

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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Independence Day pastries.

Every heart beats true for the red, white & blue. Happy 4th of July!

When our founding father’s made the blueprints for America, I don’t think they had any idea that this time of year would turn into such a circus. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve got nothin’ against a good party. I love to grill up some hot dogs & burgers & have a cold beer. I love the colors red, white & blue. I love seeing everyone (or almost everyone) flying the flag. I have nothing against the 4th of July in it’s current incarnation. As a matter of fact, it’s pretty great.

I just hope that it’s not reduced to nothing but another excuse to get drunk & stupid for most people. Like I said- I have nothing against a good time. But there’s more to the day than a reason to get plastered & blow an arm off. This is a historical day, an important day for Americans. On July 2, 1776, the Congress voted to approve the resolution of independence from Great Britain. From this, Congress turned their attention to the Declaration of Independence, one of the most important documents (if not the most important) in American history. The document explains the decision for leaving Britain’s rule, becoming 13 independent states that formed a new nation, The United States of America. The date on the Declaration itself was July 4th, which was the date the official wording was approved, so because of that, we celebrate on the 4th. But whichever day it is, it’s important. It should mean something.

For me, it’s not just a reason to party. I never take a minute of my existence for granted, not just that I’m healthy, etc… but that I live in a country which- for all it’s many faults- is pretty damn awesome. But to be honest? Holidays for me are always a(nother) excuse to bake. And as a matter of fact, my mother’s birthday happens to be tomorrow, so it’s kind of a double celebration, which means double the desserts. Which calls for some easy mini pastries for the 4th.

Easy little fruit-filled pastries for the 4th of July! #4thofjuly #independenceday

I’ve made homemade PopTarts before, and I’ve made tons of hand-pies or mini-pies. So I thought that it’d be fun to make some patriotic-themed ones for the 4th. It’s a simple, hand held dessert that bakes up pretty quickly and makes use of fresh fruits. I know, it doesn’t seem simple. There are a lot of steps involved, but in all honesty they’re easy steps! However- you can also use canned pie filling to make them, as well as frozen pie crust. One small can of pie filling and two frozen pie crusts will probably give you around a dozen of these, maybe less.

And you don’t just have to use the blueberry filling. Make strawberry, cherry, blackberry… whatever you want! Or a few of each.

Patriotic blueberry-filled mini pastries. Also known as red, white & BLUEberry pastries! #4thofjuly #independenceday

Why stars? Well because of the stars & stripes of course! The American flag is commonly referred to as the “stars & stripes”, obviously because of the fact that it contains both. The stars are known as the “Union field”, meaning the stars represent the States of the Union. The union field is a blue square, so it was only right I use blueberries in the pies. Right?

If I’m being totally honest, though, I really just wanted to say they were “red, white & BLUEberry.” I’m corny like that.

INDEPENDENCE DAY FRUIT-FILLED MINI PASTRIES

Ingredients:

Pastry dough:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks, or 8 ounces) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten (to brush on pastry)

Blueberry filling:

  • 1 pint blueberries (2 cups)
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

Directions:

  1. Make the dough:
    1. To make the crust, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry blender, work in the butter until it is the size of peas and the mixture holds together when you squeeze it. Whisk together the egg and milk and add to the dough. Mix together with a fork until everything is evenly moistened. Knead briefly on a floured surface, if necessary, until the dough comes together.
    2. Divide the dough in half. (At this point you can wrap each in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.) If you refrigerate the dough, let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes before rolling out.
  2. Make the filling:
    1. Combine blueberries with cup sugar in pan. Simmer on low heat until sugar is melted and mixture is very liquid; about 5 minutes. Combine cornstarch and water in bowl, then add to pan with blueberries. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to full boil and is clear and thick. Pour hot mixture into large bowl & same as with the cherries, cool until room temp.
  3. Roll the dough out. Roll out one piece of dough to about 1/8-inch thick, in a 9″ by 9″ square, or as close you can get to that. Using a sharp knife, pastry wheel or bench scraper, trim the dough so you have even smooth edges. Add those scraps to a scrap pile- we’ll deal with them later.
  4. Cut the sheet of dough into 6 squares/rectangles/squarangles/whatever shape you can. On half of the squares, cut a star shape out of the middle; these are going to be the “tops” of your pastries. Save the stars!
  5. Using a spatula, transfer the “bottom” squares to a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Brush the lightly beaten egg on each of the rectangles. Spoon a tablespoon of filling into the center of each rectangle, leaving about a 1/2-inch of space around the edges. DON’T OVER FILL THEM. One at a time, place a second rectangle of dough on top of the nine assembled ones. Using your fingers, press around the seams of the dough to make sure they are sealed. Press the tines of a fork around the edges of the rectangles.
  6. Now, if you want to, you can add the cut out stars, attaching them with some of that beaten egg, to the tops of some pastries. Offset them on the cutout, or put them next to it, etc, then brush that too with the egg. If you’re not using the stars, dust them with cinnamon sugar along with the scraps mentioned above, and bake them on another cookie sheet until golden. INSTANT SNACKS.
  7. Repeat #’s 4 & 5 with the other half of your dough, if you wish. If not, the dough will keep in a fridge for a few days.
  8. Refrigerate the pans with the finished pastries (you don’t need to cover them) for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 350° degrees F. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool slightly before serving. Store pastries in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one week.

Independence day mini fruit pies! Better than those popular toastier pastries & great with vanilla ice cream. #4thofjuly #independenceday

If you wanted to add a white icing to the top, you could. Or ice the stars white with little red sprinkles. Cuteness.

So, here’s the deal: I’d suggest using the above as a guideline, because I never get the right amount of pastries. EVER. I never measure right, and I always end up with more or less than I’m supposed to. And mine are never perfectly shaped- they’re always wonky & uneven. But that’s okay! Who cares!? The important thing is that they’re DELICIOUS.

And they are. They’re particularly amazing to eat around the firepit, with a bowl of vanilla ice cream (or cherry!), while watching the fireworks.

Happy Independence Day!

Delicious little pastries filled with blueberry (or cherry, or strawberry). #4thofjuly #independenceday

 

The perfect November pound cake.

;

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.

;

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)

;

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.

;

Cookie jars, pink cookies, and a giveaway.

COMMENTS CLOSED & GIVEAWAY OVER!

Okay everyone… the winner is… SARAH! Comment #73 (the last comment)! Congrats Sarah! I’m e-mailing you now. Thanks everyone for entering.

***********************************************************

I have a kind of obsession with cupcake cookie jars. I love all cookie jars, actually, and one of my favorites- not to mention my pride & joy in this particular arena- is a vintage 1930′s Minnie/Mickey Mouse one that belonged to my great grandmother Mary (whom I’m named for, kinda sorta). But I really love ones shaped like cupcakes, for obvious reasons. I’ve got four so far: one pink & blue, one black/orange/white for Halloween, one that’s all patriotic & red/white/blue and then this, my newest addition from Sourpuss Clothing.

So… you wanna see my new addition?

HOW CUTE IS THAT. Adorable. I’ve been lusting over a cupcake cookie jar with a skull on top forever now! And one that isn’t in Halloween colors. That’s kinda hard to find, ’cause for some strange reason people associate skulls just with Halloween. Weird. Oh, and you see those super cute little pink gingham cupcake towels underneath it? Yeah, I got those too. And an apron to match! CCO. Crazy cuteness overload.

Me & Sourpuss Clothing go back a long way, back to when Cupcake Rehab was just a baby blog. They have the most unique housewares for the most unique homebodies among us. I love them. So much so, in fact, that in addition to a Cupcake Rehab sticker, Lola actually sports a Sourpuss sticker too!

So yeah, they’re pretty freakin’ awesome. And they sent me this awesome cookie jar. And when I get a new cookie jar, it makes me want to make cookies to fill it with. And what cookies would I fill it with but pink cookies!? And what’s better than cookies with M&M’s? And how about if they’re coconut M&M’s? Pretty much makes them automatically awesome. Yep, I braved the high humidity & to make cookies just to fill my new cookie jar. I’m kinda insane. But you knew that.

..

Now, you probably don’t need another cookie recipe (but I’m gonna give you one anyway). Come on. THEY’RE PINK.

PINK COCONUT M&M COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ cup solid vegetable shortening
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 egg whites
  • a dash of Wilton Rose or Christmas Red food coloring gel, or another color if desired
  • 1 small bag coconut M&M’s (for these I only used the white & brown colored ones) or regular M&M’s, or chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips… or whatever the hell you want!

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F degrees. Prepare baking sheets by covering them with parchment.
  2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Beat together shortening, sugars and vanilla in a seperate, larger bowl until creamy. Add egg whites, beating until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Add food coloring, mix until combined. Adjust until you get the desired color. Stir in M&M’s.
  4. Drop batter by well-rounded teaspoonful on to greased baking sheets. Add more M&M’s on top, if desired.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden on the bottoms & puffy. Cool cookies on sheets on wire rack for 2 minutes. Remove cookies to wire rack to cool completely.

Side note: striped paper straws make everything, including milk, taste better. True story. Thanks Yoyo for sending me a bunch, I love them.

So maybe you didn’t need that cookie recipe.

What you do need, however, is that cookie jar. Amirite? You totally, 100%, without a shadow of a doubt need that cookie jar in your life. And I want to give it to you. I really do. ‘Cause I’m nice like that. And Sourpuss Clothing is nice, too, which is why they’re making it possible that one of you lucky dogs out there will in fact end up with a cookie jar.

You will not, sadly, get the cookies too. Those you have to make yourself. So… what do you have to do to get this cookie jar?

  • First, and most important, you have to tell me something: if you were to win this cookie jar, would you like it in aqua or pink? And why? ‘Cause it matches your mixer? Your kitchen? It’s your favorite color? Do tell.
  • Finally… tell everyone in your social network about it! Copy and paste the following into a tweet or post it on your Facebook page for an extra entry (then come back & let me know)-

I just entered to win a cupcake cookie jar from @SourpussBrand at @CupcakeRehab! And guess what? You can too: http://cupcakerehab.com/2012/06/cookie-jars-pink-cookies-and-a-giveaway

And that’s it. Super easy peasy. Two different chances to win for each of you. I’ll select a winner at midnight via random.org. This little giveaway ends at midnight on June 19th. I’ll announce the winner here and also e-mail them right away to let ‘em know the awesome news- so make sure you leave a valid e-mail address with your comments. ‘Cause I know you’ll be having trouble sleeping with excitement.

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.

German chocolate cupcakes & German family stories.

I’m sure by now if you’re a regular reader you know I’m part German. The German side of my family isn’t cloaked in mystery like the Irish side, and Germany kept pristine vital records (unlike the Polish/Russian sides) and those records are much easier to get than say, the Dutch, French & Belgian records or the even more mysterious “Alsace-Lorraine” family records (Alsace-Lorraine does not really exist as an actual place, therefore the records aren’t in any particular Alsace-Lorraine directory, but split between Germany & France). As you can also tell, I’m an amateur genealogist & I’ve spent the better part of the last 6-8 years doing my family history & tracing parts back to the 1100′s.

Of course, I love old pictures & all things antique & vintage so this kind of thing just feeds into that for me. Particularly the old family photos. And by old, I don’t mean like the ones you have of your grandparents in the 1940′s. I mean old as in the 1890′s.

That’s my great-grandmother, Frances “Midge” Hebrank Sonnanburg, in New York around 1896, when she was just 4 years old. You can see an older picture of her here at my other ‘German’ cupcake post. Her father’s father was Albert, a German immigrant who joined the ranks of an all-German regiment, the New York 54th Infantry a.k.a. the “Barney Black Rifles” (Schwarze Yaeger) in the Civil War. He & his family were German, from Owingen, Hohenzollern, which was for a time part of Prussia but is now Germany, specifically Baden-Württemberg. Anyway, this is the stuff that makes me tick. Me & Jay do ancestry work for fun. We’re geeks. So my family history & my ancestry mean a lot to me. Where I come from is so important, I believe in order to know where you’re going you have to know where you came from.

Okay enough with my life story/family history there. If I tell you any more, I’ll be writing for another 4 days, have severe carpal tunnel & you’ll be able to do my family tree for me. Anyway Midge loved to cook & bake, as did most of her family. There’s a story I heard my whole life about how she made a specific kind of pudding or custard; it was apparently a big hit with my grandpa & his friends. They were begging her to make it, asking & asking until finally she explained that it used an awful lot of milk, which was expensive, especially during the Depression. So whattaya know, my grandpa’s friends waited the next day for the milkman to come & then snuck around & stole everyone else in the building’s milk delivery so Midge could make the pudding. So what does this have to do with cupcakes? Well, maybe I got my baking skills from her?

Or maybe I’m hinting that everyone who asks me for cupcakes should go steal some milk & sugar & eggs first? Hey, listen- the Cupcake Wars casting department e-mailed me… I’m a very important person.

Of course, German chocolate cake, unlike Black Forest cake, is not actually German. Surprise! It’s named after the chocolatier, Sam German, who in the 1850′s created the dark chocolate for the company Baker’s Chocolate. The chocolate was therefore named for him and then, in turn, the cake, which was actually called German’s chocolate cake. But regardless, it’s synonymous with the word “German” now, and most people assume that means the country, so I’m just going to incorporate that into this post about my German family history & cupcakes. And kinda because the topping always reminds me of sauerkraut, which is decidedly German. I know that might gross you out but really… tell me it doesn’t!

Instead of using an actual recipe for German chocolate cupcakes, I just used my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe plus a coconut-pecan frosting. Mmm.

CHOCOLATE CUPCAKES

Makes about 18 cupcakes

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup buttermilk (room temperature)
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Cream butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer.
  2. Add 2 large eggs (one at a time) and beat each until thoroughly combined, then add chocolate & oil. Add (and alternate) flour plus baking soda with buttermilk (room temperature) plus vanilla extract.
  3. Place cupcake paper into each cup of 3 muffin pans (each pan yielding 6 muffins). Then fill each cup about ¾ full.
  4. Bake at 350° degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until tester comes out clean.

COCONUT-PECAN FROSTING

Ingredients:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup evaporated milk
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and brought to room temperature
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ⅓ cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 ½ – 2 cups (3-4 ounces) pecans, coarsely chopped

Directions:

  1. Combine egg yolks, evaporated milk, and sugar in a saucepan with a whisk. Add butter, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thick, about 12 minutes. After about the first 6 minutes, add the pecans.
  2. Stir in vanilla, salt, coconut. Let cool completely. Frosting can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 day; bring to room temperature before using. Spoon on top of cooled cupcakes as desired.

I always avoided making these just because they seemed so complicated & messy, and also because I rarely have pecans & coconut in the house at the same time, let alone the same time as I have evaporated milk. But I did have those ingredients- mainly because of that big ass failure of a pecan pie I made last week.. and it turns out they weren’t hard or complicated to make at all! I made it all super quick, and by the time the cupcakes were cooled the frosting was ready to go too. I’d just recommend that you make the frosting first, like I did. Then pop it in the fridge & let it cool while you clean up, then mix & bake & cool your cakes. When the cupcakes have about 10 minutes left to bake, take the frosting out of the fridge. Let the cakes cool, then just assemble them & you’re done. I added an extra pecan half on top but that’s up to you. Maraschino cherries are also traditional toppings for German chocolate cake.

So there you have it. A super rich, super sticky, super decadent cupcake. Ach du lieber Himmel!


And if you haven’t entered to win the Valentine’s Day table runner yet- GO! The giveaway ends January 31st. U.S. residents only, blah blah blah fine print. Seriously, go enter, or I’ll kick your ass.

Perfectly irregular little Christmas trees.

Most people know I’m a New Yorker. I’m a New Yorker through & through- I like my clothes black & my coffee expensive, I walk fast & hate eye contact with anyone unless I know them. What most people don’t know is the history of one of New York’s most beloved traditions: the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

When I was little, my Aunt Winnie bought me a book called the A Perfectly Irregular Christmas Tree. It told the story of a little tree that grew to become the tall, beautifully lit Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center, and at the back of the book, it told the story of the origins of the tradition. Ever since then, I’ve been totally in love with the concept. Not that I wasn’t before that… but it wasn’t until that book that I really even thought about it. It was sort of like I just assumed the tree was always there or something. I know, silly, but come on, I was like, what, 7 years old?

..

Basically there’s a very important history behind the origins of that big ol’ tree, and not many people know it.

Although the official Christmas tree tradition at Rockefeller Center began in 1933 (the year the 30 Rockefeller Plaza opened), the unofficial tradition began during the Depression-era construction of Rockefeller Center, when workers decorated a smaller 20 feet (6.1 m) balsam fir tree with “strings of cranberries, garlands of paper, and even a few tin cans” on Christmas Eve (December 24, 1931), as recounted by Daniel Okrent in his history of Rockefeller Center.[10] Some accounts have the tree decorated with the tin foil ends of blasting caps. There was no Rockefeller Center Christmas tree in 1932.

The decorated Christmas tree remains lit at Rockefeller Center until the week after New Year’s Day, when it is removed and recycled for a variety of uses. In 2007, the tree went “green,” employing LED lights.[11] After being taken down, the tree was used to furnish lumber for Habitat for Humanity house construction.[12]

Anyway, in addition to all that New Yorker-ish stuff about me, I also love to bake, as is evidenced by this blog. And occasionally I get an urge to do so randomly, or I get inspired by something. So it happened one night that I wanted to make some frosted (or iced?) cookies, and I got the idea that they just had to be gingerbread. I had a few recipes already, stashed in cookbooks or ripped from magazines, most of which were supposedly awesome, but I thought I’d check Twitter & see if anyone had any they really liked. Gabrielle from The Punk Housewife responded super quick with a vegan version from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero.

Now, I’m not vegan. I’ve made awesome vegan cupcakes before, and even made a dip entirely with vegan-friendly cheese & other non-dairy products (which I can’t say I’d do again, really). I have no problems with vegans or anything, but I myself can’t do it. I have a hot, dirty love affair with butter & cheese… & I like it. So I don’t usually have things like soy milk on hand, & if I’m going to bake something I’m usually going to go “whole hog” so to speak. However, by sending me that recipe she gave me a sort of kick in the pants to use that recipe as inspiration & then build on it with a few non-vegan tweaks. Sure, I could’ve just made it by substituting the soy milk with regular, but where’s the fun in that?! Basically, it forced my hand to do my own little gingerbread cookie thang. And that’s just what I did. So thank you, Gabrielle! I totally de-veganized that puppy. I made up my own little gingerbread cookie recipe as I went along, and then what did I do with that dough? I cut out little trees, as my homage to the big 74-foot guy in Rockefeller Center who just so happened to be having a little party & “lighting” in his honor last week. Of course mine weren’t lit- but they were all iced up with some royal icing & sprinkles.

Yeah, at this time of year EVERYONE makes cookies, especially gingerbread, & everyone seems to be in on the “fancy royal icing decorating” craze now as well. But I’m not aiming to be like everyone else, so hopefully mine are not only perfectly imperfect (more on that in a bit), but unique.

GINGERBREAD COOKIES CUPCAKE REHAB-STYLE

Ingredients:

  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 ½ teaspoons ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup molasses (I personally like Brer Rabbit full flavor, even though that & Grandma’s are now owned by the same company)

Directions:

  1. Unroll a fairly large piece of plastic wrap & sprinkle lightly with flour. Set aside.
  2. Cream the butter & sugar until light & fluffy. Mix flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice & ginger together in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Add egg & molasses one at a time to butter/sugar mixture, beating after each until combined.
  4. Add flour mixture gradually, until a sticky dough forms. Form dough into a ball the best you can & place on plastic wrap, rolling it up tightly. Chill for anywhere from 1 hour to overnight (but no longer than that).
  5. Remove dough from fridge & if too firm, let sit for 20-25 minutes before rolling out. The dough will be quite sticky, so have flour on hand. Preheat oven to 350° degrees F, meanwhile roll out onto lightly floured surface to about ¼ – ½” thick. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes & using a thin spatula, carefully place onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper (they will be very soft!!! BE CAREFUL HERE). Re-roll the scraps left over until you haven’t got enough left to use, then just lay the pieces on the sheet (they make for nice nibbles later while you’re decorating your cookies).
  6. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Remove from oven & allow to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes, then move to a wire rack to cool completely.

ROYAL ICING

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tablespoons milk or water
  • 4 tablespoons meringue powder

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl. If too thick, add more liquid, if too thin, add more sugar. Add food coloring as desired. Ta-da!

There are tons of different recipes for royal icing- some include pasteurized egg whites, some using regular old egg whites, some meringue powder, some just cream of tartar. Any of them work just fine as long as they’re the right consistency for what you’re using it for; i.e. outlines, flooding, etc. This particular recipe can be halved, quartered, doubled, tripled, etc. to suit your needs.

So once these babies are 100% cool, you can decorate them all fancy-like using that royal icing there. I obviously made little trees, so I decorated them like trees (duh). You can make anything from snowflakes to bells to holly to whatever. And then just decorate them using the icing & top it with quins, jimmies, sanding sugar, dragees- anything! The icing part can be a bit tricky if you’re not used to it. I’ve been icing cookies with royal icing since my mom made gingerbread & sugar cookies when I was a kid & let me decorate them. Now, I’m far from an expert on this, my main decorating niche lies within the cupcake sphere, so I’ll leave the explanation of how to decorate/frost cookies like a pro to Marian at Sweetopia who really is the expert. She not only does it way better than I do, but her explanation of how to decorate the cookies is probably way better than I could write. Not that mine came out terrible… I mean they’re cute, fairly neat & most importantly they taste great. So they’re not perfect, they’re ‘perfectly irregular’; like the tree in the book. But thats totally cool with me. I’m not perfect either. What in the world is perfect, exactly?

Well, cookies & tea are pretty damn close.

Amazing. There is nothing, NOTHING like a good cookie. I have to say I really, really loved these. I had like 8 of these the first night, with a cup of Licorice Spice tea. So after that one batch of trees were such a success, the next night I made some little Christmas wreaths. I used green royal icing this time, along with red tie-dyed looking marzipan for the bows, and some round pink sprinkles in different sizes that Lyns sent me back in October. I wasn’t 100% pleased with how these came out though. I think I like the trees better. Oh well. It was a cute concept, poor execution.

It was almost disgusting how good they were. The dough is very soft. VERY. Which admittedly can make it very hard to work with. It will definitely be a tricky dough, but the flavor is so amazing & perfect, and the texture is also so amazing & perfect, it’s well worth it. Just right for a cold December night while looking at how pretty your tree looks under a blanket on the couch. The best chewy gingerbread cookie I’ve had in a while; not hard as a rock & teeth-breaking, not flavorless nor overpowering. They’re just the right amount of soft, sweet & spicy.

But at this time of year, you can’t keep ‘em all to yourself. Or rather you can… at the risk of being compared to Ebenezer Scrooge. I prefer to share the wealth (to an extent). I put them in a little box (originally a cupcake box, I just removed the insert) courtesy of Bake-A-Box that was perfect for showing them off. And how cute is that gingerbread ornament?

As if you haven’t noticed, I’ve been including vintage postcards at the bottom of all my holiday posts. This one is just so pretty I had to share it, plus it’s eerily perfectly appropriate for this post; it’s a big, beautiful tree & the baubles on it look just like the ones on my cookie wreaths.