Recipe Redux: Salted Caramel Cupcakes with Caramel Buttercream Frosting

IMG_9417

Have you ever made something and then allowed 6 more years to pass before making it again only to discover one of the prepackaged ingredients has changed and you have to guesstimate? That’s what happened tonight while baking these cupcakes for a friend. The base recipe is relatively unchanged, but because Kraft now makes little caramel bits instead of cubes of cellophane wrapped caramels, I had to instill the help of my sous chef, aka Leah, who surprisingly enough, remembered the approximate size of the cubed caramels, and decided 14 caramel bits are equivalent to one aforementioned cellophane wrapped caramels. Luckily, she obliged and only mildly gave me a hard time when I requested she help and promptly counted out 210 caramel bits. Of course now that I write that, I realize I should have added all the little bits to a measuring cup prior to melting them to make it easier for next time. Ah, hindsight!

Ingredients: 

For the cupcakes: 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk

For the frosting: 

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 4 tbsp milk, divided
  • 15 caramel candies, unwrapped or 210 Kraft caramel bits (I promise next time to measure)
  • Additional caramel bits, for garnish 
  • Sea salt
  • Sea salt

Preparation: 

For the cupcakes: 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Cream together butter, cream cheese, sugar, brown sugar, & oil until light & fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well until combined.

Beginning and ending with flour, alternate flour and buttermilk, mixing and scraping the  sides of the bowl down between each addition.

Distribute batter evenly among the cupcake liners. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, or with few crumbs on it. Remove from pan and allow to cool on wire rack completely.

For the frosting: 

Beat together butter, cream cheese, & vanilla extract until light & fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add powdered sugar & 3 tbsps milk, beating until well combined. Cover & refrigerate.

Melt the caramel bits and 1 tbsp milk in a microwave safe bowl in 30 second intervals, until caramel is completely melted. Set aside to cool. I have found transferring caramel to another bowl and stirring, will help it cool. You do not want to add hot melted caramel to your frosting otherwise you will have soup and need to start over! It needs to be cooled enough so that it’s soft and pliable. Using beaters, mix the caramel into the frosting; combining well.

Cover and refrigerate frosting for 30-45 minutes prior to frosting to help it set up. Frost cupcakes, garnish with extra caramel bits, & sprinkle with sea salt.

Note: Although I allowed the frosting to refrigerate for 45 minutes, after transferring it  into a piping bag & decorating accordingly, in an already warm kitchen, it didn’t take long for it to work against me. I say all of that to say: work fast!

Source: http://www.thekitchenismyplayground.com/2012/11/salted-caramel-cupcakes.html

 

 

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Chocolate Cupcakes

IMG_9096

What’s not to love about a little cup of chocolate cake for a birthday? I made these for a good friend’s birthday a few months ago.

Ingredients

for the cupcake:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hot water

for the frosting:

  • 1 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 3 tbsp Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder
  • 5 cups powdered sugar
  • 4-5 tbsp heavy whipping cream
  • pinch of salt

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and prepare cupcake pan with liners. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients; set aside. In a medium size bowl, combine the egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until well combined. Add the hot water to the batter and mix until well combined. Batter will be thin.

Fill the cupcake liners about half way and bake for 18-23 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the middle comes clean, or with few crumbs. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool for 2 minutes, then remove to a rack to finish cooling completely.

To make the frosting, beat butter in a large mixing bowl and mix until smooth. Add the melted chocolate (after it has cooled slightly) and mix until well combined. Add the cocoa powder and mix until well combined. Add half of the powdered sugar and 2 tbsp of heavy cream and mix until well combined. Add remaining powdered sugar and pinch of salt and mix until smooth; add remaining heavy cream, as needed, for desired frosting consistency.

Note: I usually have a lot of frosting left over.

Source: http://www.lifeloveandsugar.com

 

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Chile Colorado Burritos

Chile Colorado Burrito

Mexican food is in regular rotation at our place. Like usual, we have our go to items, and every once in a while, I see something that makes me pause for consideration. This was one of those times.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lb. stew meat
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp. Knorr’s Caldo de Tomate
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 3 tbsp. chili powder
  • 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded cheese

Preparation:

To make the enchilada sauce, whisk together tomato sauce, Caldo de Tomate, garlic powder, chili powder, and flour in a medium size sauce pan. Pour in the chicken broth and bring to a boil, stirring continuously, for 5 minutes.

Place the stew meat in the crockpot, pour in the enchilada sauce, stir to incorporate, cover, and cook on low for 7-8 hours.

Spoon some of the enchilada sauce from the crockpot into the bottom of a 9×13 pan, just enough to coat the bottom of the pan. Shred the beef, spoon into tortillas, roll, and place seam side down in the pan. Repeat until pan is full. Turn the oven on to broil Spoon more sauce over the tortillas and top with shredded cheese. Broil in oven until cheese is melted, approximately 3-5 minutes.

Garnish with cilantro, if desired. Serve with beans and rice.

Source:  http://www.plainchicken.com/2012/07/chile-colorado-burritos-slow-cooker.html

 

 

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Coconut Cream Pie Bars

slice of coconut cream pie bar

I first tried my hand at this recipe several years ago and it was disappointingly lackluster. At the time, my mom jotted down tips and suggestions and it’s been hanging out in my 3-ring binder ever since. After consulting her notes, and viewing several different recipes, I came up with a conglomeration which resulted in a worthy post.

Ingredients:

for the crust:

  • 1 1/2 cups ground Club crackers
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted butter

for the filling:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup corn starch
  • 2 cups half & half
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3 tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coconut extract

for the topping:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sweetened coconut toasted

Preparation:

for the crust:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine crust ingredients and press into a 9×13 baking dish. Bake for 10-15 minutes until lightly golden brown; allow to cool completely. Since this is a dessert that doesn’t require further baking, now is the time to toast the coconut for the topping. Reduce heat to 325 degrees, spread 1 cup of sweetened coconut on baking sheet. Place in oven for 9 minutes, stirring every 3 minutes to prevent the coconut from the burning; set aside.

for the filling: 

In bowl, whisk together half and half and egg yolks. In a large saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch slowly add in the half & half/ egg yolk mixture until fully incorporated. Turn the heat up to high and stir continually until the sauce has thickened, coating the whisk. Remove from heat, stir in the butter, coconut, & coconut extract until well combined. Allow to cool for a few minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the refrigerator to cool completely, an hour or so. Once completely cooled, spread over the cracker crust.

for the topping: 

Beat together the cream, slowly add in the sugar and vanilla extract. Beat until cream forms peaks. Spread the whipped cream over the pie filling layer and top by sprinkling toasted coconut all over. Refrigerate until time to serve. Enjoy!

forkful of coconut cream pie bar

*Notes: in the future, I might double the pie filling and half the topping. Doubling the pie filling, but not reducing the topping would prevent the glass pan’s top from fitting properly.

Posted in Bars/ Brownies, Desserts, Pie, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

German Chocolate Cake

Top of German Choc Cake

Let’s take a moment and behold the gloriousness of German Chocolate Cake.

German Chocolate Cake

This is by far one of my favorite cakes and surprisingly one that I had not previously made. Growing up, it was always one my mom would make for my birthday – out of the box and can of frosting. That’s still good, but for my birthday this year, I wanted to try my hand at making it homemade. And, let me be the first to tell you, the secret of the frosting is browned butter! Brilliant, of course! It was perfection and everyone enjoyed it. Happy Birthday to me!

Ingredients:

for the cake:

  • 4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup hot coffee
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

for the filling: 

  • 7 oz. bag of sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans, toasted
  • 8 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 cup milk & 1/2 cup heavy cream (or 1 1/2 cups half & half)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract

for the ganache:

  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 tsp. instant coffee
  • 8 oz. dark chocolate chips

Preparation: 

for the cake: 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line and grease three 9 inch round pans; set aside.

Place chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Pour hot coffee over, give it one minute, then whisk until smooth and chocolate is melted. Whisk in buttermilk; set aside. In another bowl, beat egg whites with clean beaters until stiff; set aside.

In a large bowl, use same beaters you used to beat the egg whites to cream together the butter, sugars, and salt together until fluffy. Beat in yolks and vanilla until smooth, then add in the buttermilk-coffee-chocolate mixture. Sprinkle baking soda over and beat in well to combine, scraping down sides & bottom of bowl as you go. Add cocoa powder and flour and beat until just combined. Fold/stir in a quarter of the egg whites to loosen batter. Fold in rest gently, just until no white spots remain. Do not overmix. Divide evenly between prepared baking pans. Bake for 21 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Immediately run a knife around the cake but cool in pan on rack for 10 minutes before inverting onto a wire rack to cool completely.

for the filling: 

To toast the pecans & coconut, spread out on two separate small baking sheets. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 3-5 minutes, toss, continue baking another 3-5 minutes, toss, and repeat one more time. If you want, you can pulse the coconut a few times in a food processor if you like it less stringy. Place toasted pecans and coconut in a bowl; set aside.
In a large saucepan, melt butter and keep cooking after it has melted, stirring often, until it becomes toasty brown near the bottom of the pan and smells heavenly. Remove from heat, pour into a small dish to cool slightly and let saucepan cool before cooking filling.
Whisk egg yolks, half-and-half, sugars and salt together in empty saucepan until blended. Very slowly drizzle in semi-cooled browned butter, whisking the whole time. If your yolks and half-and-half were cold (which is fine), the butter might take on a clumpy appearance as it solidifies in the mixture; this is not a problem. Return saucepan to the stove and heat over medium-low, stirring the whole time so that it doesn’t scorch at the bottom, until the mixture is hot, steamy, and thick enough to coat a spoon. Do not let boil.
Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract & pour over bowl with pecans and coconut, stirring once to combine. Let filling cool before using. It will thicken up once cold.

for the ganache: 

Heat cream and instant coffee in microwave until a small boil forms. Pour over chocolate chips, allow to sit for one minutes, and stir until smooth.

Assemble the cake: 

Place one layer of cake on cake stand, top with 1 cup of filling in the center of the cake. Using a an offset spatula, spread evenly and push filling just until the edge. Repeat with remaining layers. Drizzle with ganache.

*The recipe listed above was doubled for 9 inch cake pans. To make using 6 inch cake pans, half the recipe. I also doubled the ganache recipe because I was in a groove, but realized afterwards, halving the recipe allows for just enough drizzle. If using the full recipe, you can drizzle ganache between the layers of cake.

*In the future, I would start with the filling since it takes a while to cool, and bake the cakes second.

Source: https://smittenkitchen.com/2017/08/german-chocolate-cake-a-wedding-cake/

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Betty Crocker Coffee Cake Circa 1973

Pan Coffee Cake

Being a child of the ’70’s, I can clearly see my mom’s red and black Betty Crocker cookbook. I’m fairly certain it was the staple in every kitchen during that time. In fact, I received my own updated version when I got married nearly 20 years ago. A couple of weekends back, seemingly out of nowhere, I remembered this coffee cake and instantly had to make it. When Leah woke and made her way up the stairs, she asked what I’d made and when I told her coffee cake, she looked over to the stove and declared, “That’s not coffee cake!” I had to assure her it is, it’s just different than the yellow coffee cake she is accustomed to.

Ingredients:

for the cake:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsps. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

for the topping:

  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsps. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsps. butter, melted

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9 pan with non-stick spray; set aside. In a medium sized bowl, combine the oil, eggs, and milk.  In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients and add wet ingredients into flour mixture, stirring until combined.

In a small bowl, melt the butter and stir in the brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the top of the cake. I happen to like the topping all throughout the cake, so once I’ve added it to the top, I take a butter knife and swirl the topping into the batter before baking. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

Enjoy! Slice of coffee cake

Note: I halved the cake recipe & used a 9×9 pan, but used the whole topping recipe because the topping is what makes this coffee cake so good, plus that’s how mom always made it. Just double the recipe for a classic 9×13 pan.

Source: http://www.geniuskitchen.com/recipe/betty-crocker-coffee-cake-circa-1973-224163

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Chicken Fried Chicken

Chicken Fried Chicken

Even though I like to cook and bake, and mostly figure out what we’re having for dinner without asking the family, there are days where input is required. This was one of those days and after mulling it over a while, Chris suggested chicken fried chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes. Since this is not in my repertoire, (I think gravy is gross!) I resorted to a good ol’ fashioned Google search and they all gave me Chicken Fried Steak recipes, but when I landed on the Pioneer Woman’s recipe, I figured I’d simply replace the steak with chicken and it did not disappoint.  The seasoning of the chicken was perfect!

Ingredients:

for the chicken:

  • 6 chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsps. seasoned salt
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • 3/4 tsp. paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp. butter

for the gravy:

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt
  • Fresh ground pepper

Preparation:

for the chicken:

On a large baking sheet, pound down the chicken breasts so that they are thin. Season both sides of the chicken with kosher salt and black pepper. Place the eggs in a bowl and lightly beat; stir in the milk. In another bowl, whisk together the flour, seasoned salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper.

With each seasoned chicken breast, place in flour mixture; turn to coat. Place the chicken into the milk/ egg mixture, turning to coat, and return it back to the flour mixture, coating both sides. Place the breaded chicken on a clean plate and repeat with remaining chicken.

In a large cast iron skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the butter. Drop in a few sprinkles of flour to make sure it’s sufficiently hot. When the butter sizzles immediately, you know it’s ready. (If it browns rights away, it’s too hot.) Cook the chicken 2 -3 pieces at a time, until the edges start to turn golden brown, about 3 -4 minutes on each side, cut into the center to ensure the chicken has cooked all the way through. Remove the cooked chicken to a baking sheet and cover with foil to keep warm or turn on the oven to its lowest setting and keep in there while you cook the remaining chicken.

After all the meat is fried, pour off the grease into a heatproof bowl. Without cleaning the skillet, return it to the stove over medium-low heat. Add 1/4 cup of grease back to the skillet and allow it to heat up.

for the gravy: 

When the grease is hot, sprinkle the flour evenly over the grease. Using a whisk, mix the flour with the grease, creating a golden-brown paste. Add more flour if it looks overly greasy; add a little more grease if it becomes too pasty/ clumpy. Keep cooking until the roux reaches a deep golden color.

Pour in the milk, whisking constantly. Add the seasoned salt and black pepper to taste and cook, whisking until the gravy is smooth and thick, about 5 – 10 minutes. Be prepared to add more milk if it becomes overly thick.

Serve the chicken with mashed potatoes and gravy, if you’re into that kind of thing! 😉

Source: https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ree-drummond/chicken-fried-steak-with-gravy-recipe-1925056

 

 

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