Category Archives: Experiment

Diddy Dum Diddy Do


Nothing here but these boring cakes.

Supa dupa boring. I mean, simple white buttercream. Unadorned. Undecorated. Ungarnished.

Dull. Plain.

Yep. Bor-RAINBOW.
You saw it! A rainbow cake! This feller took forever to create, but it was so much fun to play with as well.

The batter was simple and delicious, very moist. However, I don’t know if it was just me, but I followed the recipe to a “T” but despite the toothpick coming out clean, the tops of the cakes felt almost unbaked, so I baked them five minutes longer than the recipe recommended. This didn’t dry the cakes out or cause them to be darkened on the edges, but the tops remained the same. Not sticky, but they left a divot. I just leveled them off and was fine and good, I just thought it was odd. I blame the butter.

Wait, what am I saying? Don’t blame the butter! The butter did nothing wrong!

In order to maintain even layers, I took the batter and weighed it in a separate bowl. This made more dishes, so I would weigh the mixing bowl first, write that weight down, then make the batter and weigh it, then take off the weight of the bowl. The batter, for me, weighed 3 pounds 10 ounces, so when that was divided into six portions, each would be 9.6667 ounces, or 9.7 ounces.

I don’t like math, but I do it for you all. You can thank me later.

Then I have to make this

    exponentially

important statement. I bolded it, but if you could do me a favor and imagine some flashing lights around it, that would be greatly appreciated.

DO NOT USE LIQUID FOOD COLORS ONLY USE GEL FOOD COLORS!

If you use liquid food colors, it would offset the delicate balance of liquid to dry ingredients in the batter, thereby messing with the baked product. In other words, it might make it too liquidy in the end with the amount of food color you might use.

Oh, gel food colors are probably about 5 or 6 times more concentrated than liquid food colors, so you will need a lot less. That’s important too. You can find them for cheap at your local craft store in the baking isle, or I get mine at a bakery supply store. You’ll find that they are super easy to use.

I’m telling ya, man, if you don’t use gel food colors, your layers will not be as blinding as these.

All in all, its a pretty normal sized cake once the layers are all stacked up, equalling to about the size of a tall double layer cake. Its not like you baked the amount of batter for three cakes, its basically the amount of a normal cake batter. Where is all this verbage and analyzing coming from? These colors are messing with my brain. Just think, if you make two of these cakes…

That would probably be my reaction too.

Even though the cake wasn’t that tall, it did require a lot of frosting, so I applied a relatively thin amount in between each layer. I do have to admit, I really don’t like massive amounts of frosting, so this amount was adequate, and I sliced really small slices. The one in the picture is an exception. Or was it? Don’t judge.

Now listen. Once your layers have been assembled, don’t dump on a massive amount of frosting and cover the cake right away. You might get crumbs to cover your cake, and we want to deceive! Any indication of color might make your cake followers curious! They may question! To prevent that, spread on a small amount of frosting all over the cake. Like in the picture, you will still see the cake layers pretty well. Now stick your cake in the freezer for about five or ten minutes.

Trust in Clara, you must.

It’s called a ‘crumb coat’, basically, the frosting will catch and hold onto the straying cake crumbs and hold them onto the cake when you frost. By sticking it in the freezer, the crumb coat becomes hard because of the butter, and so the crumbs are cemented to the thin layer of frosting, and they will not invade your lovely white buttercream which you will spread on the outside. The result? Boring, inconspicuous cake. Perfect method of deceit.

Bright and shiny. Ultra colorful. This cake is about as delicious as it is saturated in color. It will make a great birthday cake! Or if you get that sudden urge to make something wacky.

Rainbow Cake via Whisk Kid

White Cake (but not really)
Ingredients
2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
2 1/3 c (466 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 c (375 g) flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 g) milk, warmed for 30 sec in microwave to bring to room temp
Red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple GEL food coloring. Liquid will not be vibrant enough!

Method
Preheat the oven to 350F degrees. Oil and line how ever many 9” cake pans you have (I have three and I just reused them).

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream the sugar and butter, then add the egg whites (I cracked them all into one bowl) and add them a little at a time. Add the vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Then, alternating between wet and dry, add the milk and flour mixture in two parts.

Divide the batter amongst 6 bowls (I did it by weight. Weigh your mixing bowl before you begin adding ingredients and then subtract the weight of the bowl from the final measurement after the batter is completed. Divide that number by six and add that weight of batter to each bowl), and then whisk a fair amount of the appropriate food color into each bowl. Keep in mind that the color of the unbaked batter will be the color of the baked batter. Pour into the pans and bake for 15 minutes each.

When you remove them from the oven, let them rest on the cooling rack, in the pan, for ten minutes. Then flip, cover, and stash them in the fridge to cool quickly.

American Buttercream (you may want to double this)
Ingredients
2 sticks Unsalted Butter, softened
4 C. Powdered Sugar, Sifted
1 T. Vanilla Extract
2 T. Milk, plus more if needed

Method
1. In a heavy duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, whip butter until fluffy, about one minute.
2. Add in powdered sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, until thoroughly combined.
3. Add in vanilla extract and milk. If the frosting is too thick, add in more milk, one tablespoon at a time, until frosting achieves your desired consistency.
4. Frost!

Happy Baking!
Clara

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Key Lime Cheesecake


This summer has really been a scorcher. In fact, just the other day our state broke its record for 100+ degree days. At just over 50 days (and maybe around 30 days IN A ROW) at a standard temperature of 105 or more, its a record I’d rather not have. It leaves me terrified to even put my dog outside, so I cut it into once an hour where I take him out to go potty, then back into the depths of an air-conditioned home he goes. Honestly, Avery doesn’t seem too bothered by it, he thoroughly enjoys air conditioning. In fact, when we got him from the breeder, we were overwhelmed by a slew of rowdy corgi puppies scampering indoors and out as their poor mother waddled after them, her tubby tummy dragging on the ground.

And then there was our puppy dog, laying on an air conditioning vent, happy as a clam. It was a match made in heaven.

Now he just hogs the AC vent.

So that begs the question; hot or cold? I am pretty cold-blooded, I get too cold very easily. I even get blue fingernails and purple toes, so a lot of times you will see me inside wearing a zip-up hoodie or a jacket, despite it being 100 degrees outside, AC just makes me too dang cold! On the other side, I’d much rather be cold than hot, because when you are cold you can just put on a jacket, a pair of pajama pants, or just settle underneath a warm blankie. When you’re hot, however, there’s pretty much no way out other than eating ice cream or drinking something chilly.

Or you can head to the Florida Keys and eat some Key Lime Pie. Or just stay where you are and have Key Lime Pie or Key Lime Cheesecake, what have you. Every time my dad goes to Tampa or the Keys on business, he always makes an effort to tell us about the Key Lime Pie, that’s his favorite thing! I don’t blame him, I don’t think I’ve been to Florida or than going to Disney World at the ages of 2 and 8, and I’m sure that if I were able to go any time soon (which I most likely can and will, since I’m so dang close!), I will make an executive effort to try an AUTHENTIC Key Lime Pie from the Keys. Until then, I’ll utilize the very nice and cute little key limes that they sell in little netted bags at the Grocery Store. The cute, tiny little limes that literally take me an hour to juice 1 cup out of. The precious, adorable little limes that always make me roar like Reptar out of frustration because the tiny little feller managed to get some juice in a cut that I didn’t even know I had.

The wittle, baby, itty-bitty, little limes that always perk up, without overpowering, fabulous key lime pies or other custard-like desserts in the most lovely of ways.

So I utilized the graham crackers that I had made (two posts ago) and made a graham cracker crust for some Key Lime Cheesecake (a light one, so everyone can be happy). I wanted to merge that almost overbearing lusciousness of the New York-style cheesecake with the tart lightness of the Key Lime Pie from the Florida Keys. Needless to say, it was a successful mission.

I chose to make the cheesecake tart, because otherwise, the cream cheese flavor could overbear it. Once the flavors meshed, they complimented each other nicely.
Light and luscious, this cheesecake alleviated the oppressive, and downright offensive, heat of the summer for a little relaxation. Whether on the patio with some sweet tea, or a delicatessen, or just hiding from the flames of heck that is the sunny outdoor heat.

So what are you waiting for? Give it a go!

Key Lime Cheesecake
Ingredients

    For the Crust

8 oz. Honey Graham Crackers, finely crushed
6 T. Unsalted Butter, melted
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2 c. Sugar

    For the Filling

5, 8 oz. blocks Regular Cream Cheese (for light, use 3 blocks Light, and 2 blocks Nonfat)
1 1/4 c. Granulated Sugar (add 1/4 more if you want the mixture sweeter)
5 eggs, plus 3 egg yolks (for light, just use 4 eggs)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 c. plus 2 T. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 C. Key Lime Juice, freshly-squeezed (alternatively, you can use regular limes)
1 tsp. Zest from Key Limes (alternatively, you can use regular limes)

Method
Stir together crust ingredients with a fork, then pour in the melted butter and stir so that the crumbs are moistened. Press this mixture into a 9 in. Springform pan that has been buttered. Wrap the outside with foil, making sure that the place where the pan parts connect is thoroughly covered. Place the pan into the freezer while you prepare the filling.

-Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
1. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheeses together thoroughly, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl every once in a while.
2. Pour in the sugar and mix until combined. Add in the juice and zest of the key limes and the vanilla. Taste the mixture at this point to make sure if it needs to be sweeter or more tart and adjust to your liking.
3. Mix in eggs, one at a time, making sure that there are no streaks of unmixed cream cheese floating around in the mixture, then add in the flour and salt.**
4. Pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan and place pan on a cookie sheet, or a baking dish in which the pan can fit into. Fill the baking dish with water, making sure that the water line is below where the foil ends. Gently place the pans into the oven and bake at 500 for 15 minutes, making sure to watch the top so that it does not burn.
5. Reduce temperature to 300 and bake the cheesecake for about an hour longer, until the cheesecake is almost firm (the center may slightly jiggle when you remove the cake, if it’s almost fluid-like or has the jiggle-factor of Jello, then it needs to return to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes at a time until mostly firm.)
6. Remove cake from oven and run a knife around the sides of the pan to loosen the crust from the walls. Remove the pan from the water-bath and take off the foil. Allow the cake to cool for at least 3 hours, or until cool enough to touch. Place cake in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours, or until thoroughly chilled.

Enjoy!

**: OPTIONAL: To make the cake mixture seem a bit more “limey” in color, add a drop or two of kelly green gel food coloring with a drop of lemon yellow gel food coloring. Go by drops when it comes to the food coloring!

Happy Baking!
Clara

Lemon Meringue Pie: Haute Couture


I feel that there isn’t quite a pretty site as much a slice of pie is. There are so many different styles, colors, looks, designs, rustic, clean, edgy, safe. Pie is so pretty that it is like fashion. But we don’t wear pie. Well, your hips do, but as clothes, no. But I think that, out of the entire baking world, pie is like couture, haute couture, French Vogue, Italian Vogue. Not really, but you get the picture. Pie can look so pretty, yet ugly, but that ugliness is a sort of pretty ugly. Sometimes you look at a rustic pie and go “Oooh…no…well, I’ll have a slice though.”, and sometimes you look at a rustic pie and go, “…Mother…”

What do I think is the prettiest pie? I think that the prettiest pie, but also the safest (but oh so much my favorite), is the Lemon Meringue. A cooked lemony custard topped with a meringue and torched until golden. But what do we know about the humble lemon meringue pie? I love the stuff. A soft, lemony custard. A cloud of light and fluffy meringue, torched to a pretty golden on top. A flaky, slightly salty crust. Everything about the gosh darned thing is delicious, but let’s think here. All of the lemon meringue pies that I have had are not quite tart enough. Being a child of my father, everything has to be sour when it comes to lemon [em]anything[/em]. Our lemon bars, our lemon drops, our lemonade, lemons. Everything short of our vehicles. We don’t want those to be sour lemons. In fact, we don’t want those to be lemons. That wouldn’t be good at all.

But I’m not on the subject of cars here, that isn’t something that I established this blog on. So, let me get started. When we want something to be more tart, we add more lemon juice and less sugar, which is what I did. I had a supremely LARGE lemon (I mean, almost the size of a small orange!), and a regular sized one. This, combined, yielded about 2/3 cup of lemon juice. Also, I zested the small one, and zested half of the large one. By doing this, we add a significant amount of lemon flavor (and ZING!) to the custard. I added 2/3 plus 1/4 cup of Sugar to sweeten it (only a bit!) it out. And, of course the cornstarch!

Let me explain the science of the starch of corn (or kerrrrn, as I always say). First, we dissolve it into the liquid. At this point, the starch granules are just hanging out, they won’t really have anything to do with the water molecules at this point. This is why the liquid is an opaque white color, instead of a translucent, yellow-y tone that we are familiar with. This is when heat comes into the picture. We heat the mixture to basically activate the starchy molecules, so that they will basically turn into sponges and absorb the liquid around them. When they absorb the liquid, they get bigger. They get bigger and bigger with the more liquid they take in, until they POOF, explode! Sending their magic starchy innards all through the solution. They bind and do all sorts of natural chemistry-type stuff, resulting in the thickening of the concoction. Ka-chow! Gel! Immediately after this happens, the yolks are added and as a result, cooked, then butter follows promptly.

Then you pour it into your prebaked pie shell. I don’t know how this crust recipe manages to work every time, but it does, and its just wonderful. My secret here in this specific recipe (for the lemon meringue) is that I add just a LITTLE bit extra salt. Not too much. Instead of a scant 1/2 tsp, I add a full 1/2 tsp, this makes the crust just slightly salty, which makes it sour and sweet and salty all at the same time. It’s a mind game, I’m tellin’ ya! A MIND GAME.

So many complimentary flavors, so little time!

Since I formed the crust in a more rustic-looking manner (I’ve never been able to adequately do the pinched crust-dealio, so I just kept it rough looking), I decided to go purty with the meringue. I made a seven-minute frosting (basically a cooked meringue, no raw egg whites for me, please) and piped it on using a Wilton #1M tip.

I’m so obsessed with this torch, its not even funny.

Alternatively, you can place the pie with the meringue in a 375 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, just to brown the meringue.

Awh! It’s purty! Purty enough to eat! *withdraws knife* Buahahahaaaa!

Imagine now the legendary actor Jack Nicholson, hide the pie in the bathroom, shut the door, and give him an axe.

That didn’t make me happy at all.

Now, I’m just scared.

Oh! Now I feel better!

*plays “Feelin’ Good”*

Meet the tart lemon meringue pie. My version of Versace Couture.
It will make you feel good too.

Almost-Puckeringly-Tart Lemon Meringue Pie
Ingredients
1/2 Recipe Seven-Minute Frosting
PIE CRUST
1 1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Granulated Sugar
6 T. Unsalted Butter, cold and cut into chunks
1/4 C. Vegetable Shortening, cut into chunks
2 T. Ice Water

FILLING
2/3 C. Lemon Juice (about 3 small lemons)
Zest from 1 & 1/2 lemons
1/4 tsp. Salt
1/3 C. Corn Starch
2/3 plus 1/4 C. Sugar
3/4 C. Water
3 eggs, separated (use the whites for the meringue)
3 T. Unsalted butter, cut into cubes

Method
-Prepare Crust-
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1. Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl, whisk together to combine. Add in butter and shortening, and blend using a pastry cutter until mixture resembles cornmeal. Add in water, one tablespoon at a time, until dough clumps together. Combine into a ball and allow to sit for about five minutes, wrap with plastic wrap first.
2. Roll out into a 10″ round, and gently transfer and press into a 9″ pie pan. Dock the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork, and on the sides. Gently press tin foil along the bottom and sides of the crust and fill with pie weights/rice/dry beans. Bake in preheated oven for ten minutes, remove beans and foil, bake for 12 minutes longer, or until crust is lightly golden. Allow to cool completely.
3. Prepare filling. Combine water, sugar, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, and corn starch in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisking occasionally, bring the mixture to a boil. Once the mixture has thickened into a gel, remove from heat.
4. Whisking vigorously, add egg yolks, one at a time, making sure to get each incorporated thoroughly before adding the next addition. Once egg yolks are in, add in butter and whisk until the butter is melted. Pour mixture into cooled pie crust.
5. Prepare seven-minute frosting according to linked recipe. For a rustic look, spoon frosting on top of pie and spread all around, being sure to cover the filling completely along the sides. Smooth or make spiky on top. Alternatively, you can pipe decoratively.
6. Torch the meringue until golden, or bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, until the meringue is golden. Allow to cool to room temperature, then chill until cold.

Happy Baking!
Clara

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake


I am in Albuquerque at the moment, my last little ‘vacation’ before I jet off to Savannah in a few weeks. I don’t start until the 13th, gaah. At that point, everyone will be a month into college! Haha. It’s hard to think that my friends are all separated out. Bob is in NYC (jealousy…), Jake is in Boston (jealousy…again..)…I just can’t believe it! Thanks to the world of Skype!

Catherine (my eldest sister) and I are very conscious about our weight, since we both have lost a lot in the past few years, we like to try and figure out substitutes to our favorite things that are low calorie, low fat, yet full flavored. Catherine’s favorite thing is the chocolate mousse cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory. We have been planning to find out a healthier (and still decadent!) substitute to the 17 Weight Watcher point slice (she is on weight watchers, it works! She’s so LITTLE now!). And here we have it! All it takes is a couple things to make a difference.

By taking the concept of the last cheesecake I made and figuring out how I could make everything come together in a ‘lighter’ manner without substituting richness, I, well, we (she made the mousse) managed to make a cheesecake that was substantially less (probably seven points a slice).

Oh, and it was REALLY good.

We went ahead and made a full fat mousse, using about half of it on the cheesecake, since it was easier. But that’s okay! Do what you want to do with it! The sky’s the limit!

The only thing that is very important here, though, is the use of a water bath. Without it, then the cheesecake will REALLY crack and be…um…not too pretty. Sure, you cover it with mousse, but you will still know its there.

You will…

So what are you waiting for?? Give it a go!

Lighter Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake
Ingredients
FOR THE CRUST
2 C. Chocolate Teddy Grahams ground into fine crumbs (should amount to 1 1/4 C.)
3/4 C. Melted Unsalted Butter
1/2 C. Granulated Sugar

FOR THE MOUSSE
1 Half Recipe Chocolate Mousse

FOR THE CHEESECAKE
6 oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, melted and cooled
2 Blocks Fat Free Cream Cheese
1 Block Low Fat Cream Cheese
1 1/2 T. All Purpose Flour
1 Large Egg
2 Egg Yolks
3/4 C. Plus 2 T. Granulated Sugar
1 tsp. Salt

Method
1. Preheat oven to 350 Degrees and fill a large roasting pan with water, set inside oven.
2. Stir the melted butter in with the ground chocolate teddy grahams and sugar, the crumbs should be lightly moist and crumbly, but still hold together when pressed. Add butter a little bit at a time to make sure. Spray a 9″ springform pan with nonstick cooking spray and pour the mixture into the pan. Using a flat-bottomed glass, gently press the crumbs against the bottom and up the wall of the pan. Place pan into the refrigerator so that the crust can firm up.
3. Prepare cheesecake filling. In the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the cream cheese and flour until combined. Scrape bowl as needed. Mix in sugar, salt, as well as the eggs, one at a time. Mix until combined. Pour melted chocolate into the mixture and stir until thoroughly combined.
4. Pour mixture into the chilled crust and smooth the top as best as possible. Wrap the bottom of the pan in aluminum foil and place into the roasting pan filled with water. Bake until the cheesecake has puffed slightly, slightly firm, and the center is slightly wobbly. Allow the cheesecake to cool completely at room temperature, then cool in the refrigerator from 4 hours to overnight.
5. Prepare chocolate mousse as the recipe instructs, then pour on top of completely cooled cheesecake, then spread around the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours so that the mousse can firm up. Slice and serve.

Happy Baking!
Clara

Strawberry Cupcakes with Ganache Frosting


I think that chocolate and strawberries are a good thing together. Chocolate dipped strawberries in particular, I mean, what else could directly mean ‘yum’? Well, I’m sure a lot of other things, like ice cream…and yummy fattening food. Oh how I love it.

However, that isn’t something that I was starting this rant about, I didn’t go into the ‘New Post’ category to write about fattening and delicious food. Wait, yes I did. Wait, no I didn’t. Wait…yes? No?

Wait…

Its official. Standing up (and running around) nonstop starting from the time you wake up at 6:00 a.m. to 3:40 p.m. then taking the time to think and write semi-essays causes a fire in your brain that results in the damage of thought process. Are you asking for English?

My brain hurts.

My dad told me that, when he was in high school (a high school football star in the 60’s, btw. I’m quite prideful of my footballing, motocrossing, downhill skiing, golfing, swimming, and sitting father.), his coach wouldn’t let them drink fluids during a trying two-a-day practice in the sweltering Oklahoma summer heat, and that wet towels were provided for them to suck on during certain times of the practice. And that they put duct tape on their legs. And that, if they had a boo boo, their coach told them to, “Rub a little dirt in it”.

My dad thinks that high school football players need to give that a try for a day, then we’ll see how tough they are.

*insert maniacal laughter*


Strawberries and chocolate walk hand-in-hand, like peanut butter and jelly, bread and butter, peas in their pod, children and cake, Thelma and Louise. You know, things that just work spectacularly together. I had made strawberry cupcakes before, but found them to be heavy, soggy from the strawberry chunks, and really quite dense. That wasn’t what I was wanting to come out of a light and ethereal cupcake, or the lie that was the cupcake that i had made before. In tribute to internet memes, the cake was a lie.

So I set out to try out something different, how could I improve a recipe that wasn’t enjoyable? I needed to use strawberries, it needed to be pinkish tinge, not the Pepto Bismol that I see so often in the grocery store bakeries. It needed to be natural and delicious, with a subtle sweetness and an aftertaste that makes you think “Oh! Strawberries!”

I had used fresh strawberries before, which is totally fine (their taste was absolutely amazingsauce.) but I felt that they made the texture of the cupcake a bit…off-putting. Then again, I don’t like chunky strawberry yogurt. I don’t like to be interrupted by a random chunk of fruit. I wanted to make it smooth and delicious, so thats when I opted to use frozen strawberries that are mashed with sugar. When frozen strawberries thaw, their inner cell structure is so heavily damaged from ice crystals that it basically makes them little water (or juice!) balloons. They won’t be firm like fresh strawberries, but soft and mash-able. That’s what I went for, and it worked.

The thick puree made the batter a pretty pink color without being overwhelming, and so when it all went together, it became a lighter tone.

The batter, when combined with the egg whites, turns out to be a nice rosy pink color. Its subtle and pretty, my favorite color of pink! The best!

The color is a bit different in this photo, their color keeps that VERY subtle pink color, and they are very light and pretty. I put the ganache on very thinly, because ganache can overwhelm everything very easily. So make sure to keep it thin, or just use vanilla frosting. Its very light and not sweet to the extreme, as well as having a nice strawberry flavor. Needless to say, I think I win.

I’m going to go rub some dirt on my brain.

Strawberry Cupcakes
Ingredients
1/4 C. Cake Flour
1 1/2 C. All Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Salt
About 10-15 frozen strawberries, sliced and thawed
1 1/8 C. Granulated Sugar plus 3 Separate T.
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
3 Large Eggs, separated
1 Stick Unsalted Butter, softened
1/2 C. Milk

GANACHE
1 C. Bittersweet Chocolate, melted
1/2 C. 2% Milk

Method
-Mix together both flours, salt, and baking powder, preheat oven to 350. Prepare ganache, melt chocolate, then heat milk up until hot, pour over chocolate and allow to sit for at least 2 minutes, whisk together until smooth and combined. Chill until thickened, at least two hours.
1. Combine thawed sliced strawberries with 1 T. granulated sugar and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 30 minutes then, using the tines of a fork, mash strawberries until well-mashed and a thick puree forms.
2. Cream butter and sugar together in the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes on medium. Add egg yolks, one at a time, until well combined. Pour in strawberry puree and vanilla extract and mix until smooth, about two minutes.
3. Starting and ending with the flour mixture, slowly pour in flour and milk alternatively until both have run out. Make sure the mixture is smooth.
4. Whip egg whites with remaining 2 T. granulated sugar until they reach stiff and glossy peaks, being careful not to take them too far and overbeating them. Pour 1/3 of egg whites into the batter and stir to combine. Add another third and fold in the mixture gently, making sure that you get the bottom of the bowl as well. Fold in the remaining third.
5. Pour batter into prepared lined muffin tins, filling each cup about halfway full. Bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely.
6. Beat cooled ganache until lightened and slightly fluffy (it will not be as fluffy as a cream-based ganache will be, but it will be thick and more easy to work with). Spread on a thin layer to the completely cooled cupcakes. Enjoy!

Happy Baking!
Clara

A Stroke of Genius?


I was totally inspired by the Creme Brulee that I made the other day, I was also inspired by the probably too-dangerous-to-be-held-and-functioned-by-Clara kitchen torch.

So, I made cupcakes.

I made the white cupcakes, filled them with vanilla bean pastry cream, topped them with some sugar, then TORCHED EM.

It took a lot of figuring out, the cupcakes were fussy, and I filled about a dozen of them too much, and they…weren’t pretty enough to even mess with. So, I took the ones that I filled just right (the batter worked for about 1/2 full in the liners). I cut a hole in them, filled, topped, topped again, and buuuurrrnnned until crispy.

Don’t you love it when things worked?

The concept is a lot of fun, but it is a bit time consuming, as the pastry cream is homemade and has to absolutely cooled, but that’s alright, if your bored.

So what are you waiting for?

Give it a go!!

Creme Brulee Cupcakes
Ingredients
1 Recipe Pastry Cream (NOTE: I used scraped vanilla bean seeds in mine!)
About 2 1/2 Dozen White Cake Cupcakes
Sugar

Method
NOTE: Make the pastry cream a few hours beforehand, so that it can cool completely.
1. Take a paring knife to the center of the cupcakes, and gently cut a circle around the top, then lift out the center of the cupcake as gently as you can. Its alright if you are messy, though. Reserve the tops.
2. Gently spoon in the cooled pastry cream into the cavity of the cupcake, filling almost to the top, then gently press the top of the cupcake back on.
3. Sprinkle each cupcake with about 1 tsp. of sugar, making sure to get sugar everywhere on the top of the cupcake.
4. Start up your kitchen torch according to the manufacturer’s instructions and hold it directly above each cupcake, while constantly moving. Melt the sugar until a caramelly-color forms, if some turns a bit black, that is alright. Allow the caramel to cool a couple minutes so that it has a chance to harden.
5. Enjoy! These are best if served immediately, because the caramel won’t stay hard if kept in the refrigerator. That doesn’t mean they won’t be great the next day though! Will save 2 days, covered in the refrigerator.

Happy Baking!
Clara

Peachy Keen :)


I love peaches. They are the reason that I look forward to Summer.

Well, that and a break from education in general. What? Oh. Just kidding, peaches are the reason. Let me ask you this: is there anyone who doesn’t love peaches? Is that even possible? Oh ho ho, I highly doubt it. Who doesn’t love a peach? You can easily count me out of that equation. Yummmmm.

So, we go to a local orchard to pick fresh peaches every Summer, its about thirty minutes from my area and it is family owned, I believe. Anyway, we have kept this a family tradition for maybe three or four years, as long as the orchard has been open for. Nothing beats an orchard fresh peach, absolutely nothing. It makes hothouse peaches go to shame. My favorites would have to be Topaz, Encore (the last of the season DDD: ), and Jayhavens. For the latter because the are small and very sweet, I used them for this recipe, which stemmed from an idea of what to do with too many peaches.

I loved the idea of peach cookies, but I felt that the flavor could have been a fit more intense, like with the juice of the fruit as well. So, yesterday morning, when I got back from my run, I promptly got started with peeling three peaches, cutting them up.

Adding around a tablespoon of sugar, letting them sit for a few minutes, then coarsely mashing them with a fork. It was actually a bit of fun to do it this way rather than making a peach puree, this way some chunks were left behind as well as the mash, so the muffins had a fun texture to them as well.

The batter seems like a pretty standard batter. However, I used the creaming method (butter and sugar are creamed together, followed by wet ingredients then flour) as opposed to the muffin method (wet ingredients are whisk together, then flour is gently folded in). Using butter, half brown and half granulated sugars, and two eggs rather than three, the batter turned out silky and thick, just what I was aiming for! When the butter mixture and eggs are combined, add in the peaches and mix until combined. Then you add your flour in!

I will have you know that this is one THOROUGHLY delicious batter. Ain’t it just purty?

I felt that the batter wasn’t quite thick enough to fill the cups all the way up, like a lot of other muffin batters, so I opted to fill 3/4 of the cup full. After which, I topped with coarse sugar. I bet that natural Turbiano (please tell me I spelled that right…) sugar would be even better! Bake at your scary high temperature, then lower.

After baking, they are high-topped with a crunchy top texture, the inside is fluffy with little bits of peach. Dad said that they filled him all morning, that was a rewarding feeling.

So give them a go!
Peach-Flecked Muffins
Ingredients
3 Medium Ripe Peaches (to be specific, I used Jayhaven)
6 T. Unsalted Butter, softened
1/2 C. Packed Golden Brown Sugar
1/2 C. Plus 1 T. Granulated Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/8 C. Vanilla Yogurt
2 C. All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Tsp. Salt
2 1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1 Heaping Tsp. Baking Powder (slightly rounded on top)
1 Scant Tsp. Baking Soda (just under)

Coarse sugar, or Turbiano sugar, for topping.

Method
Preheat oven to 500 degrees and prep muffin tins with cupcake liners, or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon in a separate bowl; set aside.
1. Peel peaches and cut them in slices, being sure to get as much off of the pit as possible. Cut each slice into smaller cuts and spread slightly. Sprinkle 1 T. sugar on top of peaches and stir to combine. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. When the time is up, coarsely mash them with a fork. Make the batter.
2. Combine butter, brown sugar, and 1/2 C. granulated sugar into the bowl of a heavy-duty electric mixer, and cream together until relatively fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, and mix until well combined. Pour in peaches and vanilla, mix to incorporate. Mix in vanilla yogurt.
3. Slowly add in flour, with the mixer on low, until just incorporated. Spoon batter into prepared tins, filling them 3/4 full. Top with coarse sugar. Place into preheated 500 degree oven for 5 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 12-13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove and allow to cool on racks. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Happy Baking!
Clara