Boston Creme Pie Cupcakes

Boston Creme Cupcakes

For those of you in the DC area, you know we had a “snow day” last week that ended up being a total bust.  There may not have been any real snow, but that did not stop people from completely panicking and shutting down schools and office buildings. I used the extra day at home to my advantage, and made a batch of these Boston Creme Cupcakes.

I wanted to try this recipe not only because it looked awesome and delicious, but it also gave me a chance to make vanilla pastry cream, which I hadn’t done before.  It was not too hard!  The cream requires nearly constant attention and whisking, but only takes about 10 minutes to pull together.  The ganache glaze is also fairly simple, no double boiler required.

In regards to order of assembly, I would make and refrigerate the cream first, then make the cupcakes, and make the ganache while they cool, right before you are ready to assemble. Enjoy!

Boston Crème Pie Cupcakes

From Martha Stewart

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for tins
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for tins
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Vanilla Pastry Cream (recipe below)
  • Chocolate Ganache Glaze (recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour standard muffin tins (or spray them with Bakers Joy, as I did). Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Warm milk and butter in a saucepan over low heat (or microwave it together, as I did).

Beat eggs and sugar with a mixer on high speed until thick and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in dry ingredients.

With mixer on low speed, add warm milk mixture to batter, and beat until smooth. Add vanilla. Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each halfway. Bake cupcakes until light gold, about 15 minutes. Let cool in tins for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks. Let cool.

Using a serrated knife, cut each in half horizontally. Spread 1 tablespoon vanilla cream on each cupcake bottom. Sandwich with top. Spoon glaze over each.  Serve immediately, or let cool in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  This allows the ganache to harden and makes for a slightly less messy cupcake!

Vanilla Pastry Cream

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Whisk yolks until smooth. Mix sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add milk in a slow, steady stream. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes.

Pour 1/3 of milk mixture into yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the eggs and prevent them from curdling. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until thick, 2 to 4 minutes. Stir in vanilla.

Pass vanilla cream through a fine sieve into a bowl (I used a fine mesh colander). Press plastic wrap directly on surface. Refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour, or up to 2 days.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Place chopped chocolate in a heat proof bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan.  Remove from heat, stir in corn syrup and pour the mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.  Let cool, stirring often. Use immediately.

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Caramelized Banana Bread

Bananas are the only fruit I genuinely hope we don’t finish during the week.  Throwing away shriveled grapes or moldy clementines makes me sad, but a pile of brown bananas puts a smile on my face.  Time to make banana bread.

The classic recipe from The Joy of Cooking is my go to, and it’s lovely, but this month’s Cooking Light (surprise) featured an entire spread on quick breads.  I am dying to try the sweet potato bread and the maple stout loaf later in the fall.  But this week called for banana bread, and this recipe did not disappoint.  The flavor of the caramelized bananas really adds depth.  The original recipe called for a glaze,which I skipped.  I did add coconut, and it was a nice little addition of both flavor and texture. 

Caramelized Banana Bread

adapted (slightly) from Cooking Light

  • 3 tbsp butter, softened and divided
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, sliced
  • 1/2 cup fat-free buttermilk
  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tbsp amber or gold rum
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Baking spray with flour  (I used Baking Pam)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut, optional

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add brown sugar and bananas; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; cool 10 minutes.

While the banana mixture cools, combine buttermilk and next 3 ingredients (through eggs) in a small bowl (or in the measuring cup you measured the buttermilk in to save dishes).  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in another small bowl. 

When the banana mixture has cooled, place in a large mixing bowl, and beat on medium speed until smooth.  Add flour mixture and buttermilk mixture alternately to banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture, just until combined. Fold in coconut, if using. Scrape batter into a 9 x 5-inch metal loaf pan coated with baking spray.

Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs clinging. Cool for 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Remove bread from pan, and cool on wire rack.

 

Beer Bread

Bread and I are not friends.  Well, ok, bread and I are BEST FRIENDS when it comes to eating, but we are more like frenemies when it comes to baking.  During Snowmageddon 2010, we were stuck in the house for several days, but luckily had power.  I decided to make bread and it was a total disaster.  I wasted so much flour, butter, yeast and herbs trying to follow what appeared to be a very simple recipe.  Anything involving yeast turns me into a hopeless kitchen clutz.

This aversion makes quickbreads more my jam (get it? jam? bread? food nerd pun?), but also limits my bread repetoire to loaves of banana and zucchini bread.  While those are always delicious, I was hoping to make a more savory quickbread loaf, which is where this recipe comes in.  Simple, basic, always in the kitchen ingredients and no waiting and waiting and waiting for dough to maybe-kinda-hopefully rise.  The bread is slightly sweet from the honey, nutty from the beer, and has a lovely, buttery crust. It’s fool proof, and fabulous. 

Beer Bread

adapted from EzraPoundCake.com and GimmeSomeOven.com

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons honey (can omit for a more savory loaf)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 bottle (12 ounces) beer
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted (use a whole stick if you are daring)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9″ x 5″ x 3″ inch loaf pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Using a wooden spoon, stir the beer and honey into the dry ingredients until just mixed. 

Pour half the melted butter into the loaf pan. Then spoon the batter into the pan, and pour the rest of the butter on top of the batter.  It will look buttery, which is obviously a good thing!

Place the loaf pan on a cooking sheet (in case any butter drips while baking) and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until top is golden brown and a toothpick/knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Cousin Karoline’s Cake Cookies

My cousin Karoline is a wonderful baker, and she invented this cookie recipe years ago.*  It has been passed around our family, and comes in handy often. It is dead simple, easy to adapt, and completely delicious. You probably have all the ingredients already!  If you love soft, chewy cookies, give this recipe a try.  Thanks, Lina!

*Had no idea, but apparently Paula Deen originated this recipe with chocolate cake mix! Credit where credit is due!

Cousin Karoline’s Cake Cookies

  • 1 box of cake mix, any flavor (I used red velvet, funfetti is the original)
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar

Using an electric mixer, combine cake mix, butter, cream cheese, egg and vanilla until well blended.   Chill mixture in the freezer for about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350.  Roll a tablespoon of batter into a ball, and then coat with powdered sugar.  Place on a cookie sheet and flatten a bit.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the surface is cracked and the batter looks set.  Remove to cooling rack and dust with more powdered sugar, if desired.


Lemonade Cupcakes

cupcake closeSo, I have been cooking all summer, but you wouldn’t know it if you checked the blog!  What can I say except the usual…busy, out of town, new job, etc.  Luckily, I have a stockpile of some yummy recipes and some lovely photos which I plan on sharing much more regularly now that it’s fall.  I also LOVE fall cooking…which may increase my productivity.  We’ll see.

For a bbq I attended a few weeks ago, I was charged with making dessert.  I immediately decided on a tried and true summer dessert recipe, Lemonade Cupcakes.  So delicious, bright and fresh and totally easy.  Make them in the next few weeks as we hold onto summer!

Lemonade Cupcakes from Southern Living

  • 1  (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed
  • 1  (18.25-ounce) package white cake mix
  • 1  (8-ounce) carton sour cream
  • 1  (3-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 3  large eggs
  • Cream Cheese Frosting (canned, if you must.  I made homemade, following a Barefoot Contessa recipe, then dyed it yellow)
  • Combine all ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth.  Pour into a lined muffin tin and bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of  a cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool and then frost, decorating with sprinkles if you would like.

    Strawberry Pie – My Oh My

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    I promise this will fix the foulest of moods.

    I was in a foul mood on Tuesday.  I’m not sure why, I was crabby, and tired and generally annoyed (not to mention annoying).  I knew I needed to go home and immerse myself into some sort of culinary project, maybe something I had never done before, maybe something sweet, and warm and seasonal and…pie.  Strawberry pie.  From scratch.  On a weeknight.

    It did the trick!  As a pie crust novice, I spent some time going through different crust recipes (shortening v butter, egg v no egg, freeze v refrigerate) and finally decided on a very basic butter crust, with a very simple fresh strawberry filling.  Making the crust, cutting the berries, rolling the dough, and putting it all together provided the perfect amount of distraction from my bad mood.  And the resulting dessert?  Sealed the deal.  Even after doing dishes, I went to bed with a smile on my face.  Make this one soon, while the strawberries still look so delicious!

    Photo (and taste test) courtesy of James Mitchell

    Photo (and taste test) courtesy of James Mitchell

    Baked Strawberry Pie

    For the Crust:

    • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
    • 2 sticks cold butter, cut into 1 inch pieces and frozen for 30 minutes or more
    • 1 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • 6-10 TB ice water

    Combine the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor, pulse until mixed.  Add the butter, a few pieces at a time and pulse until just combined.  There should still be pea sized chunks of butter mixed into the flour.  Add the ice water, one TB at a time, pulsing with each addition.  Pinch a bit of the dough, if it holds together it’s ready.  If not, add another TB of water until it does.  Place the dough on a floured surface and knead until two discs.  Do not overwork the dough!  Dust flour on the top and wrap each disc in plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour, and up to a day or two.

    For the Filling:

    • 2 1/2 pints of fresh strawberries
    • 1/2 c sugar
    • 1/3 c flour
    • 1/2 – 1 tsp of cinnamon

    Wash the strawberries and remove the stems.  Cut into quarters, or smaller if the berries are extra large.  In a bowl, cover the cut berries with sugar, flour and cinnamon and stir to combine

    For Assembly:

    • 1/2 stick butter
    • 1 egg

    On a floured surface, roll out one of the chilled dough discs, to about an 1/8 inch thickness.  Place this sheet of dough in the bottom of your pie pan, removing any excess dough.  Fill this bottom shell with the strawberry filling, and dot with butter.  Roll out the second pie crust, and place over the pie.  Seal the edges of crust by pressing together with your fingers, and remove any excess.

    Beat one egg with a few TB of water to make an egg wash.  Brush this over the top of the pie, sprinkle with sugar, and cut a few holes in the top crust for ventilation.  Bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. 

    Serve with ice cream, whipped cream or nothing.  Let it cool and eat it with a fork straight from the pie plate, I will absolutely not judge you.

    From the plate, from the pan...just get the pie in your mouth!

    From the plate, from the pan...just get the pie in your mouth!

    Cookies!

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    I do not do a lot baking.  I love the results, but often find the process a bit tedious, with all its measuring utensils and subsequent dishes to wash.  Now that I have a beautiful blue KitchenAid, it’s much more tolerable, but I still prefer just throwing things in a pot.   But sometimes, you just want COOKIES. 

    I made these cookies while maintaining a South Beach-esque diet leading up to my sisters wedding, so there are lots of substitutions.  I had all the low cal stuff on hand (Splenda, etc), so I decided to see if this recipe would work in a low(er) calorie way.  The results? 

    YUM!  A bit a of a sweet aftertaste that comes along with using sweeteners, but generally speaking, I think they were delish.  Satisfying as a baked good, and I didn’t feel terrible about having one…or two.  And the whole wheat flour and oats upped the fiber quotient to make these things practically health food!

    Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

    • 1 cup I Can’t Believe Its Not Butter for Baking, softened
    • 1 cup packed light Splenda brown sugar
    • 1/2 cup Regular Splenda
    • 2 eggs ( I did use real eggs, Egg Beaters could be used)
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 cups quick-cooking oats
    • 1 cup semi sweet chips (I used real chips…there just are not substitutions for some things!)
    1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F
    2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
    3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

     

    Health food you can believe in

    Health food you can believe in