Saturday, August 29

Reeses Revamped - {Chocolate and Peanut Butter Macarons}

I found myself growing quite upset as I stood outside my house early yesterday morning. Even though I'd just returned home from a great night with friends, I couldn't shake the frustration taking root in my core as I cooed patiently to my dog. My lips parted for a quick, "good pup," but what followed the innocent action shocked me; a short breath escaped - and I saw it.

I've been combating these recent and numerous cold nights with whining exclamations of "it's still August! That's summer!" and cozy hoodies, but it's completely clear that fall is here. I nearly choked when I saw a yellowing leaf hanging obnoxiously from a sad-looking tree last week, and I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw school buses out practicing their routes just two days ago. For weeks, I've watched mothers and fathers eagerly snatching up deals while their empty-eyed children grudgingly select matching supplies for the school year ahead, and I've even found myself scouring weekly ads to determine where I should buy my supplies (Office Max has the best prices!). I've unsuccessfully tried to ignore the signs of fall. I'm subconsciously giving in.


Even my baking has taken a turn with the season. I find that I'm envisioning heavier recipes, laden with pumpkin or apples, accented with warm spices and often containing chocolate (although, not all at once. Hmm... But why not...?). When fall rolls into town and I take up a second residence in my favorite sweater, summery flavors go by the wayside while heartier and comforting ones come into play.

Take, for example, these macarons. Chocolate and peanut butter is admittedly the most uninspired flavor combination known to man, but it works, so I employ it. Its familiarity is approachable, simple and comforting, which is all I want from a recipe at this time of year.


I suppose if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

The Alternate Reeses
The bitter cocoa nibs sprinkled on top of these macarons add an extra addictive crunch. You may want to serve these with milk!
Printable Recipe

2 egg whites, room temp
65g almond meal
115g powdered sugar
10g cocoa powder
15g sugar
Cocoa nibs (optional)

Place an unlined shiny baking sheet (to prevent browning) onto your oven's top rack and preheat the oven to 325F.

Prepare a piping bag with a round tip. I like to put mine in a glass so I can simply pour in the macaronage/batter and begin piping as quickly as possible.

Beat the egg whites into a foam, and gradually add the granulated sugar. Continue beating until the meringue no longer slides when you tip the bowl, being very careful not to overbeat. Sift the almond meal, powdered sugar and cocoa powder over the meringue and fold to combine. Continue mixing just until ribbons settle indistinguishably into the macaronage. Pour into your piping bag and pipe small rounds onto sheets of parchment paper. Sprinkle with cocoa nibs.

Bake 15-20 minutes on a baking sheet below the one already in the oven.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
I had ab it of trouble with my ganache becoming too hard at room temp. You may find that you need to add more cream to yours to get it to the right consistency. Don't be worried about messing with the measurements- it's pretty forgiving stuff!
Scant 1/2 c heavy cream
1/4 c dark chocolate
Peanut butter

Heat the cream until steaming, then pour over the chocolate. Set about five minutes then whisk to melt the chocolate. Allow to cool to room temp (put it in the fridge or freezer if you like), then whip in the peanut butter to taste.

Sunday, August 23

Inner Child - {Lemon Cookies}

Sometimes I feel pretty grown-up. I have a job, I pay bills and I can even buy Blopens from the TV commercials if I want!


But then there are times when I feel ridiculously childish.

For example: maybe someone my age shouldn't get excited and/or sing along when a certain new song by a certain Disney starlet with an identity issue comes on the radio, but it happens. I'm perfectly content with the fact that I was rockin' out to that song in my car, and also that I was, at the same time, giddy with excitement about driving to my grandparent's house to spend the night. I really I don't mind that you'd probably never believe I was a day over 11 because of all of this. Honestly, it's ok. I understand.


It's just that I can't control my childish urges sometimes. I'm sure you understand that it's not my fault that I couldn't hold back when my awesome grandma presented a plate of these cookies to me as I walked through their door that evening. They're delightfully chewy and buttery, with that perfect refreshing zing that you'd hope for in a lemon cookie. Grandma told me that they didn't turn out right, and that the picture from the recipe she used made them look like they should have been crisper, but leaving them chewy is undoubtedly the way to go. A harsh crunch plus the bite of the lemon would just be too much. The contrasting softness of the cookie and the sharp citrus just works.

And so, to redeem myself from my sudden lack of composure, I curled up with a cookie (ok, maybe two) on the couch to watch Fox news and talk politics with my grandpa.

I successfully resisted the urge to watch SpongeBob Squarepants when he went to bed.


Because I'm so mature and all.

Lemon Crisps From Woman's Day/Grandma
Printable Recipe

1/2 c (118 g) unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 c (149 g)sugar
1 egg, room temp
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon juice (I just used the juice of half a lemon)
1 1/2 Tbsp lemon zest (I used the zest from the whole lemon)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 c (156 g) flour

Preheat oven to 350F (175C).
Cream together the butter and sugar, then add the egg, juice, zest and vanilla. Sift in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Drop by 1 1/2 tsps onto lined baking sheets and bake 10-12 min until lightly golden around edges. Let cool on sheets one minute before placing on racks to cool completely. Makes about 2 dozen.

Lemon Icing
You probably won't need this much icing, but it depends on how much icing you want to put on the cookies. I used around 3/4 c icing sugar and just enough lemon juice to make a thick paste.
1 c (150 g) icing sugar
4-6 Tbsp lemon juice

Beat together and drizzle over cooled cookies.

Wednesday, August 19

Say it with Cake - {Super Epic Rainbow Cake}

Click here to buy a print!

Two cakes in one week.

I might have a bit of a problem. But... I dunno for sure.


Anyway, I made this cake for a good friend.

A friend that started as my worst enemy 12 years back, a friend that dreams of losing shoes and a friend that understands the great significance of screaming "EARTHQUAKE!" She's moving to Ohio at the end of this week, and although I'll miss her, I know she's going to have an awesome time living there.

As soon as she told me she was having a going-away party, I thought of the perfect dessert to tote along. I don't think anything else would have been more suitable than this monstrosity of a cake.


The six individually baked layers match her insanity (in a good way!!!), she loves rainbows, and it's got lemon flavored icing because she likes... well... Lemon.

That wasn't very eloquent, was it?

But the most important aspect of this cake, the thing that makes it so her is the fact that it's frosted in white buttercream. Why? Because the smooth white exterior makes the cake look completely normal, but once you slice into it you realize... OH SNAP! THIS CAKE IS CRAZY!

And then it all makes sense.

PEACE OUT, G! Raise hell in Ohio for me, ok?!?!


Edit March 28, 2010

The following video was mailed to me by the Daly family (thanks again - you guys are awesome!!). It's amazing and I want to share it with you guys!



Super Epic Rainbow Cake
I'm adding a disclaimer here: THERE IS A LOT OF FROSTING/BUTTER IN THIS CAKE. I used a lot because I wanted the cake to be very striking visually. It is intentional. Put in less if you want. Also, I'm not forcing you to eat this entire cake by yourself, so - seriously - quit freaking out about the butter.

Watch me make this cake with Ms. Stewart on The Martha Stewart Show!

Printable Recipe

White Cake (but not really)
I made things difficult on myself and altered a coconut cake recipe for this. I don't know why I didn't just make a white cake from a white cake recipe, but.... I didn't. Here's the source if you're looking to make a coconut cake. It looks divine, but my friends don't like coconut :(
2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
2 1/3 c (426 g) sugar
5 egg whites, room temp
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 c (426 g) flour
4 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 1/2 c (355 ml) 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!

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 (It's about 1 c each, but 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.

Lemony Swiss Meringue Buttercream
(Someday I will make a post, besides my pancakes or mint macarons, that doesn’t involve this recipe!)
I made this recipe twice today because I underestimated the amount of buttercream I would need/ I would recommend that you do the same because you would need a HUGE bowl to make this much buttercream at one time! Please click here for a step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream and troubleshooting tips!

To fill and crumb coat:
9 egg whites
1 ¾ c (350 g) sugar
4 sticks (452 g) butter, room temp
2 tsp lemon extract

To frost:
5 egg whites
1 c (200 g) sugar
2 sticks (226 g) butter, room temp
1 tsp lemon extract

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. After all the butter has been added, turn the mixer back to high speed and whip until it has come together, about five minutes. Add the extract, beat briefly and then use.

If the buttercream seems soupy after all of the butter is added and does not come together after whipping, refrigerate for 5 to 7 minutes and continue whipping until it becomes fluffy and workable.

Assembly
Stack the layers in your preferred order and fill and frost as you would any other cake.

Once frosted, the cake can be left on the counter without any problems, but feel free to refrigerate it. Just be sure that the cake is at room temperature when serving or the frosting will be hard, not smooth.

Sunday, August 16

A Hot Mess - {Chocolate and Caramel Cake}

The first time I made caramel, it was a disaster.

The plan was simple; make a huge sheet of caramel-y chewy goodness, cut it into pieces like delicious little bars of gold, dress each priceless nougat in parchment and adorn them lovingly with sophisticated bows of brown ribbon. It was going to be a perfect addition to the boxes of cookies I was handing out to my friends for the holidays.


But it was all downhill after pouring the sugar into my pan.

I cooked the sugar to a beautiful dark amber, hastily dumped in the cream and shrieked as the contents gurgled and sputtered their way higher and higher up the edges of an already full sauce pan. The burning mess climbed up my spoon and I sacrificed it - without thought - to the growling monster from hell, stepping backward in shock. The bubbles tested the round lip of the pan, edging higher and higher.

It was at this point the realization that there was no hope socked me square in the face.

I watched in horror as the sticky ooze spilled over the edge, racing for the burner and spreading over the surface of my oven. Smoke billowed up quickly, and the terrible and thick scent of burning sugar and cream filled not only my kitchen, but my entire house.

There were no caramels that Christmas.


But today, there is caramel. Thankfully this time it is soft, chewy, and contained in a nice, neat, small, oiled bowl instead of being completely inelastic and sprawled haphazardly like a hungry amoeba over my range.

On the flip side, the first time I made chocolate cake, was... Well, pretty unremarkable, honestly. The cake was mixed, baked and devoured. Easy as... Cake.

But this time my chocolate cake was a disaster. I was so excited to use my spankin' new, 3 mile (*cough*inch*cough*) deep, sparkly Fat Daddio's cake pan that I thought whatever I did was going to turn out beautifully. But I was wrong. I will just say that I have never before in my life seen a cake that baked up quite as terribly. When I flipped it onto the cooling rack, the unbaked center (which I tested with a toothpick - it came out clean!!!) flowed through the bars and all over my counter; a sticky ooze of a mess for me to clean. Just bad. So I tried again. (Don't judge me! I had to, because I had finally made caramel correctly, and I had to use it in something... Didn't I?)

But I don't blame the pan. I blame the recipe. This cake is uber rich and extremely chocolaty and I think it was soupy in the oven because it was, at that point, pretty much a melted chocolate bar. When I made a few changes and baked it in two pans instead of one, things went much more smoothly.

This cake is quite rich, but also a little dry, which seems kind of contradictory, but it's true. Maybe. My family didn't think it was dry... BUT... I think the addition of sour cream would help this recipe. It's up to you!

Oh, and to justify the eating a slice of this chocolaty, caramel-y, buttery, tasty monstrosity? You're eating for your soul.


And maybe PMS.

Chocolate and Caramel Cake
Printable Recipe

Caramel
1 c (198 g) sugar
1/4 c (59 ml) heavy cream

Prepare a small bowl by rubbing it with shortening/butter or spraying it with Pam so that the cooling caramel will not stick to it completely. Set aside.

Cook the sugar in a heavy-bottom pan until a dark amber color (I don't know which temp is right... I got lucky, I guess!). Remove from heat and pour in the cream, stirring gently until combined and no longer bubbling. Pour into the prepared bowl and let rest until cool to the touch.

Be careful, hot sugar is.... Hot... It burns. lol. The goal is to have a very soft caramel that is a little runny when cooled. You'll be adding it to buttercream.

Caramel/Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Please click here for a step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream and troubleshooting tips!

1 3/4 c (348 g) sugar
8 egg whites (save 2 yolks for the cake recipe!)
3 1/2 sticks (28 Tbls) unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
Resulting caramel from above recipe
1/4 c (40 g) dark chocolate, melted and cooled

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, slowly add the butter, a few pieces at a time, waiting until each addition is fully incorporated before adding more. After it has all been added, whip it until it thickens up, about five minutes, and add the vanilla. Remove half of the buttercream, place in a separate bowl, and whip in the chocolate. Add the caramel to the remaining half. It may be necessary to heat the caramel slightly to make sure it is the correct consistency, but be careful it's not so hot that it will melt the buttercream!

Super Chocolate Cake
3/4 c (177ml) heavy cream
1 c (160 g) dark chocolate chips (I used 52%)
2 c (250 g) flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
3/4 c (177 g)butter, cubed and at room temp
1 c (142 g)firmly packed brown sugar
2 eggs + 2 yolks, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350F (175C) then grease and line two 6 inch pans.

Heat cream until steaming, then pour over chocolate. Allow to set for 5 minutes, then whisk gently to combine. Allow to cool to room temp (put it in the fridge/freezer for a bit, if you like).

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside

Cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, and then add both yolks plus the vanilla. Then, alternating between wet and dry (beginning with wet), add the flour and cream mixtures in 2 additions each. Be sure to scrape down the bowl!

Divide batter into the two prepared pans and bake 35-40 min.

Assembly
Level and split each layer of cake so you have four layers of equal height. Fill with caramel buttercream, crumb coat with either frosting, and then frost completely with the chocolate buttercream. I decorated very simply by drizzling chocolate over the edges of the [chilled] cake. Additional caramel would also be great :)

Wednesday, August 12

Minty Macs - {Chocolate and Mint Macarons}


I think mint is a great flavor. It may not be extremely versatile, and I know quite a few people who don't care for it at all, but it's got a refreshing zing that's all its own.

Needless to say, I love it.


And because I love it, I'm proud of my little flowerpot in the kitchen window. Lime green and outfitted with wire-like, twisting green stalks of mint, the tall pot houses the only plant I've successfully grown on my own. Which isn't impressive, of course, and I'm very fortunate that my dad knows how to operate his garden, but it's a small achievement for me. Even if it's [quite apparently] ridiculously easy to grow!

I bet these macs would have been even more fabulous if fresh mint had been steeped in the cream that went into the mint ganache, but I didn't have the heart to strip my poor plant of so many leaves. A wuss move I justified by considering myself to be in a bit of a hurry. And really, I was - I had scheduled a night at the drive-in with a friend. So, in place of the fragrant severed limbs of my poor defenseless little plant, I used up the last of my mint extract.


I seem to go through it quickly.

Minty Macarons

Shells
2 egg whites, room temp
20g granulated sugar
130g powdered sugar
75g almond meal
green food color (gel)

Place an unlined shiny baking sheet (to prevent browning) onto your oven's top rack and preheat the oven to 300F.

Prepare a piping bag with a round tip. I like to put mine in a glass so I can simply pour in the macaronage/batter and begin piping as quickly as possible.

Beat the egg whites into a foam, and gradually add the granulated sugar. Add the food color with a toothpick; dipping it into the gel and scraping the pigment onto the beaters. Continue beating until the meringue no longer slides when you tip the bowl, being very careful not to overbeat. Sift the powdered sugar and almond meal over the meringue and fold to combine, being sure to get out quite a bit of the air. Continue mixing just until ribbons settle indistinguishably into the macaronage. Pour into your piping bag and pipe small rounds onto sheets of parchment paper.

Bake 15-20 minutes on a baking sheet below the one already in the oven.

Minty Chocolate Ganache
Printable Recipe

1/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz dark chocolate, in chips or shaved/chopped into small pieces
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

Place the chocolate in a large, heatproof bowl. Heat the cream until steaming, then pour over chocolate. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, add extract, then whisk gently to combine.

Tuesday, August 11

Impulse - {Rose Cupcakes}

I'm the type of person who has a difficult time passing up a good deal. A downfall which explains the stack of cheap notebooks stacked neatly on my vanity, the array of clearance-priced purses hanging heavily on what is supposed to be my coat rack, the fact that I have more shoes in my room than I really have the space to keep, and the reason why my paychecks seem to disappear so quickly! The trait also explains my overflowing kitchen cupboards which are filled to the brim with ingredients and supplies that were simply too cheap to walk by!

Closing the doors on the cupboards is a challenge; usually resulting in a dangerous balancing act that ensures something will - no doubt - fall on me the next time I choose to open them. And thus, I learned the hard way that keeping my kitchen knives in this cabinet was a bad idea.


Kidding, kidding.

Anyway, the cupboard is in constant need of reorganizing, and yesterday, as I was doing just that, I happened to come across an unopened bottle of rose water with its clearance tag (marked 1.99) still attached. Having never seen a bottle before, I was surprised by the cost (although rose water isn't very expensive full price), and added it to my order just as the poor cashier had finished ringing me up. I was apparently so excited about the purchase that I shoved it into the very back corner of my baking cabinet, never again to see the light of day.

Stupid impulse buys at the checkouts.


But when I did find the bottle; stuck behind 4 bags of varied degrees of dark chocolate chips, a package of lollipop sticks, and a vial of luster dust I'd also forgotten about; curiosity got the best of me. Cupcakes were necessary, because it would help me clean out my stuffed cabinet.

If only by a teaspoon.

Rose Cupcakes with White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream

These cupcakes start with a distinguished vanilla flavor, but finish on a very floral note. The rose water really adds more of a scent than a taste, but the presence is unmistakable. I sprinkled my cupcakes with chopped pistachios and topped them with handmade gumpaste roses.
Printable Recipe

Rose Cupcakes
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 c (156 g) flour
6 Tbls (85 g) butter, room temp
3/4 c (149 g) sugar
2 egg whites, room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp rose water
seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 c (118 ml) half and half, microwaved for 20 seconds to warm slightly

Preheat oven to 350F (275 ml) and line a cupcake tin.

Sift together salt, baking powder and flour and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar until light. Add whites one at a time, beating well until each is fully incorporated. Add vanilla, rose water, and vanilla bean. Now add the 1/4 c of the milk, mix well, then sift in half of the flour mixture, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mixing just until combined. Add the remaining milk, then the remaining flour mixture, and spoon into liners. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Makes about 12 regular size cupcakes or 16 small souffle size cakes. Oh, and if you use the disposable souffle cups, make sure you cut a small slit in the rim of the cup so your guests will be able to easily remove them from the cakes.

White Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Please click here for a step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream and troubleshooting tips!

1 c (199 g) sugar
5 egg whites
18 tbls (256 g) unsalted butter, softened slightly and sliced
1/4 c white chocolate, melted and cooled

Cook the egg whites and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. The buttercream may turn into a soupy curdled mess, but I assure you it will be ok; just beat it for a few minutes longer. It'll come together! When the buttercream has reached the ideal consistency, add the melted and cooled white chocolate carefully. Try not to get any on the walls of the bowl as it will cool and harden there. Whip to incorporate.

Tuesday, August 4

Recipe Coward - {Lime Cupcakes}

The adage that "baking is a science" has always bothered me. It's discouraging, frightening and dishonest - especially for someone like me who stopped caring for science when we quit rubbing balloons on our heads... I mean, ok, it's true, the chemical reactions that occur when wet meets dry and batter meets oven do require a certain preciseness, but it's hardly something to panic about. A little more here or a little less there... Eh... Not that big of a deal.

It's probably just me, but I used to make absolutely sure that I followed recipes exactly as they were composed. I was never short a grain of salt, my measuring cups were leveled perfectly, and I did only what my guide dictated.

I was afraid of recipes.

I remember my mom, not too many years ago, saying casually that, "baking is a science," and suddenly the once-innocent ingredients I'd laid out in front of me had become completely terrifying. I was utterly convinced that one stray speck of flour would throw everything into chaos; not only would my cupcakes turn fluorescent green and sink, but that one small speck of flour would surely make its way into my eye and blind me.

But of course, that was kind of silly. The recipes worked. Well, most of the time, anyway. I've stuck my fair share of cakes to their pans, and even caught cupcakes on fire (I couldn't figure out why my oven light was suddenly working again...), but over time I've realized that even if what I make doesn't turn out "right," it's certainly going to be edible (ok, maybe not charred cupcakes). And besides, who decides what is right, anyway?


So when these cupcakes developed cracked, flat and ugly tops after I made alterations to a familiar recipe yesterday, I wasn't discouraged or at all upset with myself like I would have been in the past. On the contrary - after feeding my oblivious friends the delicious mistakes, I made a few changes and tried again for the sake of taking photos and sharing the recipe with you guys.

This time I got it "right."

Lime Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes
The one thing I think is VERY important and want to stress is to make sure your ingredients are at room temp. Slice the butter so it warms more quickly, microwave your milk for 20 or so seconds, and set your eggs in warm water for 15 or so minutes before separating. If a little yolk gets in the mix, don't worry about it. If you don't want to waste yolks, use one whole egg. If you hate mayo, use sour cream (I would have, but I didn't have any so I decided to try it out! Mayo works for chocolate cake, right?). Improvisation is a very important and very rewarding part of baking!
Printable Recipe

1/4 tsp salt
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 c (156 g) flour
6 Tbls (85 g) butter, room temp
3/4 c (149 g) sugar
1/8 c (30 ml) mayo
2 egg whites, room temp
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 c (118 ml) milk, microwaved for 20 seconds to warm slightly

Preheat oven to 350F (175C) and line a cupcake tin.

Combine salt, baking powder and flour and set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar, then add the mayo and mix until well combined. Add whites and vanilla, then beat until combined. Now add the 1/4 c of the milk, then half of the flour mixture, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl and mixing just until combined. Add the remaining milk, then the remaining flour mixture, and spoon into liners. Bake for 15-18 minutes.

Makes about 12

Lime Curd

1/2 c (99 g) sugar
1 Tbls lime zest
1/2 c (118 ml) lime juice
2 yolks, light beaten
1/4 c (59 g)butter, sliced

Put the egg yolks into a medium bowl. Set aside.

Put the sugar, zest and juice into a small pan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Now pour a small amount of the boiling mixture into the egg yolks, whisking continuously until thoroughly incorporated. Continue whisking and adding small amounts until it's all been combined, then pour back into the saucepan and resume cooking over medium-high heat until very thick, 10-12 minutes. It will be like pudding when it's ready.
Now add the butter, whisking until completely melted. Remove from heat, pour through sieve, and press plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent a skin. Chill until very cold, about 3 hours.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Please click here for a step-by-step guide to making Swiss Meringue Buttercream and troubleshooting tips!

1 c (199 g) sugar
5 egg whites
18 tbls (256 g) unsalted butter, softened slightly and sliced
2 tsp vanilla

Cook the egg whites and sugar over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved (test by rubbing some between your fingers. If it's completely smooth, it's done). Pour into another bowl (a stand mixer is preferable) and whip on high speed until room temp. Then, on a medium-slow speed, add the butter, waiting until each piece is completely incorporated before adding the next. The buttercream may turn into a soupy curdled mess, but I assure you it will be ok; just beat the crap out of it for a few minutes. It'll come together, and when it does, you should add your vanilla :)

Assembly

Spread a thin layer of lime curd on each cupcake (I learned the hard way that too much will make your icing slide and your table a sticky mess, so don't be too generous!) and frost with an ample amount of buttercream. Sprinkle with lime zest and enjoy!

Sunday, August 2

Living a Lie - {Pancakes}

On particularly lucky Saturdays, my dad would casually ask one of the greatest questions in the world: "who wants pancakes?"

My brother and I?

We wanted pancakes.

I'm sure he didn't need a recipe, but I always insisted on standing on my tippy-toes to pull his torn copy of "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook" from our bookshelf. The page was bookmarked, decorated heavily with splatters of wayward batter and ornamented with dad's illegible chicken scratch annotations. It was a mess, but it was an important part of the process because the act of taking out the book was my way of helping. As I stumbled about the kitchen, cautiously moving things to the counter, Dad would patiently recite the list of ingredients. His dictation may have occasionally been interrupted by the dropping of eggs or spilling of milk, but I was never swayed - I wanted to do everything I could to help.

However, measuring was a little daunting at that point, so we employed the "say when" method. The dry ingredients were mixed thoroughly, and after adding the wet ingredients to a well in the center, I whisked the whole thing together with a fork like his mom taught him. Dad would then determine if the batter "looked right," and add either flour or milk to achieve the perfect thickness. When he decided it was ok, I analyzed the batter, trying very hard to memorize the consistency, but it only took a couple of times for me to realize just how impossible that is. Perfect batter is dad-territory when you're young.

So then I waited. I could hardly lift the giant cast-iron skillet dad always used, let alone properly use a spatula, so I sat patiently across the room to watch him flawlessly turn the behemoths from one side to the other. They were cooked one at a time, scaling the length of the 9" pan, and were served with a sprinkle of powdered sugar. My absolute favorite breakfast.


But these pancakes weren't really pancakes, you see. Dad always left out the baking powder - like his mom used to - which resulted in very flat and very thin...

Crepes.

Essentially, anyway.

Delicious crepes, but not pancakes. Flat-as-a-pancake-with-no-baking-powder-crepes. Crepes that I still love and adore, but now know by their proper name.

It's really not often that I choose to make pancakes over Dad's "pancakes," but today my fridge is bursting with garden-fresh blueberries and I doubted they'd cook into the crepes very well. Fluffy pancakes hold them in much better, and have the advantage of being easier to flip.

And that easy flipping is something I can really appreciate because, hey, even though I'm 18, I still kinda flip pancakes like a five-year-old.

Good thing ugly pancakes are still tasty - and the same goes for crepes!


Real Pancakes
Printable Recipe

1 1/2 c (188 g) flour
3 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 Tbls sugar
1 1/4 c (296 ml) milk, warmed slightly in the microwave (just to make sure it doesn't solidify the melted butter)
1 egg, room temp
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract
3 Tbls butter, melted

Sift together the flour, powder, salt and sugar twice. Make a well in the center and set aside.

In a separate bowl, whisk together (with a fork, if you're so inclined!) the remaining ingredients, then pour into the dry ingredients. Whisk briefly, being careful not to overwork the batter.

Pour (our use a measuring cup) into a HOT oiled skillet over medium-high heat. Before flipping you can sprinkle them with blueberries, raspberries, chopped strawberries, sliced bananas, nuts.... Anything's good!

Brown on both sides and serve!