Tag Archives: sweets

Cranberry Maple Muffins

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the kitchen these days. To be completely honest, I don’t usually put a whole lot of effort when it come to dinner during the week. A lot of open this bag and reheat this frozen entree type of thing. However, a couple friends of ours have recently become parents, and we’ve been taking meals to them a few times a week. Where I am unwilling to make the effort just for us, it’s a completely different story when it comes to someone else. Mostly I make dinner items that are easily microwaveable, but I’ve also been trying to throw in hand-sized baked goods that are easily consumed in between feedings and diaper changing. This weekend I decided to whip up some Cranberry Maple Muffins.

Notes:

  • After making the Apple Cider Muffins last month, I knew I’d have to overfill the cups to get the generously sized muffins (I think) most of us prefer. With that in mind, this recipe yielded 8 muffins instead of 12.
  • I used real maple syrup (from Canada, no less), and if “maple” wasn’t in the title, no one would be able to tell it was an ingredient. It brought the needed sweetness, but if you want straight up awesome maple flavor? This is not the recipe for you.
  • This is a personal preference, but without the maple flavor being noticeable, I thought these muffins needed something extra to round out the flavor. My vote would be for some sort of citrus.

Orange Spice Cookies

Not to brag, but I have been pretty pleased with the status of my 30 before 31 list lately. Never before have I had some many items crossed off at this point in the year; usually it’s a mad scramble to get things done come about January. I still have a long way to go, but it feels good to be checking things off regularly. My current push is to cross off #8 – Make 12 recipes from cookbooks I already own, before the end of the year. So far all the recipes have been good, and with the slightest tinge of Fall in the air, I felt it was a good time to try out the recipe for Orange Spice Cookies.

cookies5 cookies2 cookies1 Since I lacked not only the fluted pastry wheel, but any pastry wheel at all, I decided to cut these out the way I do most of the cookies I make. With one of the glasses from my cabinet 🙂cookies3 cookies6 cookies4

Notes:

  • I had the worst time with this recipe. I couldn’t get the dough to hold together; it was too soft to roll out even after throwing it in the freezer for five minutes to help it set up. There was some very unladylike cursing and general railing about the folks at Southern Living and whether or not they even bother to try their own recipes before endorsing them. I finally ended up adding extra flour, and everything was peachy, though I sill planned a scathing review… then I realized that I made a teeny tiny error when putting these cookies together. And by teeny tiny, I mean I accidentally doubled the amount of butter called for. So yeah, it was all on me, and I am really glad I didn’t write anything unkind before I figured out my mistake.
  • The only real criticism I have for the final product is that it is really sweet. The cookies are pretty sweet on their own, and adding the icing just takes it a little too far for me. After rolling it around in my mind a bit, I think I’ll probably trade the the icing for a dark chocolate drizzle or dipping the cookies in dark chocolate next time I make them.

Baklava Muffins

When I was much younger, I religiously watched the Style Network. Growing up in a small town, I was determined to get out there and see the world and be just as together and fabulous as those chic accomplished ladies. One of the shows I adored was Nigella Bites. Watching the beautiful Ms. Lawson navigate her beautiful kitchen and create delectable looking baked goods was one of the reasons I wanted to learn how to bake.

Last year, a client of ours brought in a HUGE box of cook books (she was hard core dieting, and sugar and bread were the devil) and had us rummage through her collection and take whatever we wanted. I came a way with a small stack that included How to Be a Domestic Goddess by Nigella Lawson. Some how it ended up packed away, and I forgot about it until I stumbled across it again this weekend. Clearly, it was time to put its glossy pages to good use. Thus, Baklava Cupcakes.

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Notes:

  • Super easy to throw together, and they have the added bonus of sounding impressive when you tell people what they are.
  • Flavor was really good; I did add a teaspoon of ground vanilla to the batter because 1 – I could and 2 – I like vanilla in my muffins. Andy LOVED them, especially the bits of filling that baked over the edge; they were basically cinnamon pecan brittle.
  • You have to be very careful not to over mix your batter. I got a bit carried away, and although the flavor of the muffins was still on point, the texture was just a tad on the chewy side.

All in all, a really positive baking experience, and I can’t wait to try out some of the other recipes.


Blackberry Lime Cupcakes

I have to tell you guys, I am embarrassingly proud of how well these cupcakes turned out. The frosting was sweet and very berry-y, the filling was fruity and tart, and the cake was so good I’d have eaten it without the frosting. Very rarely do I bake something and not want to tweak the recipe, but this was exactly what I wanted. Originally, I’d planned on making blackberry cupcakes for my birthday, but between office cake, desserts from friends, and special treats from my husband, there was no way I needed any additional baked goods. Now that birthday week is officially over, our kitchen is no longer stocked with an over abundance of sweets. Plus Easter. You have to have something special for Easter. The lime flavor addition was very last minute, but it completely made the cupcakes.

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Ingredients and Directions:

Cake

  • 1 box of Plisbury Classic White Cake
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick of melted butter
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake tins.
  2. Combine ingredients in large mixing bowl, mix until thoroughly incorporated.
  3. Fill cupcake liners 2/3rds full and bake 19-23 minutes.
  4. Allow cupcakes to completely cool before filling and frosting.

Blackberry Filling

  • 24 oz frozen blackberries
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • the juice from half a lime
  1. Combine sugar, blackberries and lime juice in a medium sauces pan and place over medium heat.
  2. As the berries start to release juice, reserve one cup of the juice (for the frosting), then continue to let the berries simmer and reduce until they reach a thin syrupy consistency (approximately 20-25 minutes).
  3. Allow the filling to cool before piping into cupcakes.

Frosting

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 all purpose flour
  • 1 cup blackberry juice
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • the juice of half of a lime
  • zest from one lime
  • 3 sticks up butter cut into cubes
  1. Combine sugar, flour, cream and both juices in a sauce pan and place over medium heat. Whisk ingredients and allow them to cook, stirring occasionally, until it reaches the consistency of a soft pudding (roughly 10-15 minutes).
  2. Transfer mixture to a stand mixer and beat on high until cooled (6-8 minutes).
  3. Once mixture has cooled, reduce mixer speed to medium and start adding the butter a couple of cubes at a time until all the butter has been incorporated.
  4. Switch mixer back to high and whip frosting for 1-2 minutes.

To Build the Cupcakes

  • Use a cupcake corer or a knife to cut a hole in the middle of each cooled cupcake.
  • Fill the cavity with blackberry filling.
  • Frost each cupcake and decorate however you like.

 


Totoro & Strawberry Cupcakes

My birthday is still a week away, but I got a bit of a surprise start this weekend. I received a huge package in the mail from my mother on Saturday. I opened the box and on top of the stack of gifts was a card. The card contained $20 and instructions for me to open one gift a day for a week, and to use the money to get myself a cake, cupcakes, or the stuff to make a cake or cupcakes. Attached to the card were tiny little Totoro cake toppers, and as soon as I saw the one holding a strawberry, I knew I was making a batch of strawberry cupcakes the very next day. Whoo hoo for birthday week!!!

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The Strawberry Puree

  • Quart of Strawberries
  • 1/3 cup of sugar
  1. Watch and cut strawberries.
  2. Combine strawberries and sugar in a sauce pan. Over medium heat bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and puree mixture with an immersion blender (or in a traditional blender until smooth).
  4. Allow mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. * I ended up with roughly 2 cups of liquid.

The Cake:

  • Pillsbury Classic White Cake Mix
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of cooled strawberry puree
  1. Combine ingredients, beat until uniform, and bake per instructions on the back of the box.

The Frosting:

This recipe is an adaptation of the vanilla frosting recipe featured here.

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup strawberry puree
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter (cut into small cubes, softened but cool)
  1. Whisk together sugar, flour, cream and puree in a medium sauce pan. Bring to boil over medium heat whisking occasionally, until the mixture reaches the consistency of a light pudding (approximately 10 minutes).
  2. Transfer mixture to a stand mixer. Beat mixture on high for 7-9 minutes until it has cooled. Reduce the speed to low and start adding the butter pieces a couple of pieces at a time ever 20-30 seconds, while the mixer is continually running. When the butter is fully incorporated, turn the speed up to med-high and mix until it becomes light and fluffy (1-2 minutes). Pipe onto cooled cupcakes and enjoy.

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Not a bad way to kick things off, huh?