Sunday, March 11, 2012

Guinness Cupcakes

A group of friends and I celebrated St. Patrick's day a little early yesterday. We boarded the infamous keg bus (which by the way, isn't allowed to carry kegs??!) and headed down to Arlington for a little fun. Since we were celebrating all things Irish and green and I said I would bring something along for the bus ride, I did a little research for a special St. Paddy's treat. So through a lot of searching, I found what looked like a great recipe for Guinness Stout cupcakes. Of course I made some changes to it, because let's face it, I can't just do what I'm told, I gotta attempt to make it a little better. I think the results were worth it. They were pretty darn good and everyone seemed to enjoy them. When people are taking seconds, and thirds, I take that as they enjoy them. So here's my version of Dave Lieberman's Chocolate Stout Cupcakes...

Guinness Cupcakes with a Cream Cheese Frosting
(This recipe made roughly 100 mini cupcakes.)

*preheat oven to 350 degrees

3/4 C cocoa powder (I like the Hershey's Special Dark)
2 C sugar
2 C flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt

1 bottle Guinness beer (I used the extra stout)
1 stick butter, melted
1 TBS vanilla
3 large eggs
3/4 C sour cream

1 8-oz pkg cream cheese, softened
3/4 C heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 1-lb box confectioners' sugar


In a mixing bowl, whisk together the cocoa, sugar, flour, baking soda, and salt

In another large bowl, combine beer, melted butter, and vanilla.  Beat in eggs. Mix sour cream until thoroughly combined.

Gradually mix the dry ingredients into the wet.

Fill paper cupcake liners 3/4 full and bake for 12-14 minutes for mini cupcakes,  22-27 minutes for regular cupcakes.


Beat the softened cream cheese until it is light and fluffy.  Gradually pour the heavy cream and vanilla into the cream cheese while beating.  While on low speed, gradually add the confectioners' sugar until it is smooth. Keep in the refrigerator until you're ready to use on the cupcakes. 

I used a 12 tip to pipe the frosting onto the cupcakes then dusted the tops with the ground bittersweet chocolate. And since we were celebrating St. Patrick's Day I used little green shamrock paper liners.

Tres Leches Cupcakes

This little adventure started when a friend of mine said he was looking for something to bring as a gift to his friends that are expecting a little girl soon. This was the first time he was seeing them since they found out they're having a girl, and being that they are great friends of his, he wanted to bring them something special when he went down for a visit. After throwing around some ideas I suggested him bringing her some fun cupcakes and him a bottle of something he would save and open on his little girl's wedding day. I know, I know, I'm good. ;) haha. So I tasked him to find out her favorite dessert and I would attempt to turn it into a cupcake for her, for him. Her husband told him her favroite dessert was Tres Leches, a typically latin-type cake, soaked in, you guessed it, three milks. Hmm... and  had to figure out how to turn it into a cupcake. I found a recipe that sounded good (I found several but this was the only one I had actual faith in). And wow is all I can say about it. Amazing. I even posted on facebook that I had just made the most incredible cupcakes ever. I'm really not one to brag about food I make being amazing, but seriously, they were. I clearly could use a little help with the decoration factor, but I was in a hurry. And I'm a little upset that I didn't take pictures mid process. I will next time for sure. Because yes, I will definitely be making these bad boys again. So here's the recipe that I adapted slightly from that they adapted from

Tres Leches Cupcakes with a Dulce de Leche Buttercream Frosting

*Heat oven to 350 degrees. I recommend using the foil liners, not just the paper ones, as you're adding quite a bit of liquid to the cupcake after it cooks. It will just hold up better.

3/4 C unsalted butter, softened
1 C sugar 
3 eggs, seperated
1 tsp vanilla
1 C flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt, kosher
3/4 C buttermilk

1/2 C evaporated milk
1/2 C sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C coconut milk

Dulce de Leche Buttercream Frosting:
 5 large egg ehites
1 1/2 C sugar
4 sticks butter, diced and slightly softened
1/4 tsp salt
1 TBS vanilla
1 C Dulce de Leche (I used a canned version from the hispanic/latin section of the grocery store; it's a super thick caramel-type sauce)

cocoa powder, ground chocolate, or chocolate shavings for garnish

To make the cupcakes:

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy on medium speed. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined and all the bright yellow disappears. Add the vanilla, mix to combine. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Alternately add the dry mixture with the buttermilk to the creamed butter beginning and ending with the flour.

In a small bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into  cake batter.

Fill foil-lined wells 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer cupcakes to wire rack and set aside.

While the cakes are baking, stir together the evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and the coconut milk. Poke several holes in the top of cupcakes with a wooden skewer and then pour the milk mixture over each cupcake while they are still warm, filling each hole. I did this slowly, with several spoonfuls for each cupcake. The warmer the cupcake, the faster the cupcake will absorb the milks. Refrigerate for a couple hours or overnight before frosting.

To make the butter cream frosting:

Combine egg whites and sugar in a bowl placed over simmering water. Bring mixture to 150 degrees while whisking constantly.

Transfer mixture to stand mixer bowl with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until mixture cools and doubles in volume.

Add butter in one piece at a time, mixing to incorporate after each addition. Add salt and vanilla and mix to combine (I use kosher salt, but you must mix the salt and the vanilla first so that you don't get little bits of salt in the frosting. Mixing he two first will help break the salt down a little). Add the dulce de leche and mix to combine.

Fill a piping bag and go to town with the cupcakes and frosting! Garnish with your choosing.

I think toasted coconut would look pretty as a garnish, but I didn't have any to toast, so I went with ground bittersweet chocolate. I didn't use the cocoa powder because the cakes weren't going to be delivered until at least 16 hours later. I wasn't sure what the powder would do on the butter cream. Run? Soak in? Just went on the safe side with the chocolate. Apparently they were a hit. And apparently he took all the credit. I think his friends are smarter than that though. ;) Here they are all packaged up. I found these darling little boxes at Michael's. And yes, he took more than 4 cupcakes. ;) He took a dozen to the momma-to-be.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Food, Finally (part II)

Five entries up and I'm feeling good about it! I'm just hoping I can keep it up! Part of me doing this is from my thoughts while I was mowing the grass this morning. I was asking myself if I was following my dreams or my passions. I don't know that I am. Heck, I'm not even sure what my dreams are. I feel like I need to start doing something about it before time just passes me by and I can't follow my dream. Wasn't Garth Brooks the one that sang, "Some of God's greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers"? I have been blessed with time. Time to do what I want to do. So now I just need to get off my arse and do something about it. So let the foodyness begin!

Seafood Potpie

So we celebrated my husband's grandparent's 60th wedding anniversary with them at the Retirement community where they live. The dining facilities are great, so we were pretty excited to see the menu for the evening. My husband was particularly stoked when he saw Seafood Potpie on the menu. Really? Flaky crust? Seafood? Creaminess? How could he resist? Unfortunately the potpie was quite a letdown. It was more of a seafood mush. Mushy crust, mushy seafood. Not a good combination.  So being the good wife that I am, the following week I made him what he was looking for. I used cod, sea scallops, shrimp and a favorite of his, crawfish.  I didn't even bother with the usual filler of potatoes.

I started with a roux, and then added milk steeped with the crawfish and shrimp shells, and proceeded to add a little more butter and parmesan cheese and some old bay for a little kick. It turned into a pot of thick and creamy goodness. Seriously, I was eating spoonfuls of it (and it was immediately finding it's way to my thighs). I added the seafood to the sauce, then pured it all in dishes*. Topped them off with pie crust (store bought... what can I say... I already had it from a party and didn't want it to go to waste!) with a sprinkle of old bay, and popped them in the oven.  I want to say I cooked them for about 45 minutes at 375 or something, but I'm not 100% sure. It sounds about right though. ;)

Hubby was extremely happy with the results and I think pretty pleased that he was able to get a good seafood potpie after all. 

*As much stuff as I have, would you believe I don't have a single gratin dish OR soup crocks? I need to make my way to William Sonoma and get me some.  I had to use my Portmerion rimmed soup bowls instead!

Mexican Flank Steak

I loved how this meal turned out. The flavor was unbelievable, but even more so, I loved the way the colors played together. I marinated a flank steak using adobo sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo, lime, cilantro, garlic, and probably olive oil.  I was a little concerned that the spice might be too much for the hubby, but it all played out nicely. I grilled the flank steak along side red peppers, vidalia onions, and poblano peppers. I would like to say the peppers came from the garden, but I've had a heck of a time with all of them except the jalapenos. I also grilled sweet corn (still on the cob). I rubbed the corn, onions, and peppers with a little olive oil and sprinkled a tiny bit of chipotle chili powder and salt on them. I used a knife to take the corn off the cob, because there's nothing less attractive than having a bunch of corn stuck in your teeth. I initially planned to make a salad using the corn, chopped up peppers, onions, and fresh tomatoes, but by the time I was done grilling everything, I just didn't want to mess with it. I chopped some grape tomatoes and added it to the corn and let it be. A little slice of fresh avocado (because what's not good with avocado?!) and I called it done.

This was definitely one of my favorite meals this summer. The flavors just screamed summer! I'll have to try this again this winter! Don't think the corn will be nearly as good, but it's worth a shot!

Ribeye I

Ok, this picture just doesn't do this meal justice. And I might add, this is from a night when I was eating solo. And, calling it Ribeye I, because like the salmon, we like our ribeye, so there will probably be more posts. I like mine done in a very particular way... rare to medium rare, with a good char. Pretty easy. Marinades? Eh, I'll take mine with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Yep, that's it. I think going extra simple really helps bring the taste of the meat out. And oh, that char... cooking it for just a few (3-4) minutes on each side over a high charcoal heat... my mouth is watering right now. This time I topped it with some crumbled maytag blue cheese and put the whole thing on a bed of arugula (yes, home grown in that garden of mine).  I tossed the arugula with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper before hand. Simple food done well. It was the perfect summer dinner for one.

You better believe I paired it with a yummy pinot noir, too. Since I was by myself, I probably just used the Robert Mondavi private select. It's a good, reasonably priced bottle you can get at any grocery store. It tastes good, pairs well with the char of the steak and the pepperyness of the arugula, and well priced. Perfect combo if you ask me!

Looking at the picture and reading what I just wrote... I'm thinking nix the blue cheese and do a balsamic reduction over the arugula. THAT would be good. See, I'm inspiring myself already! ;)

Salmon I

So I'm calling this Salmon I because we eat salmon pretty often and I know there will be several more Salmon entries.  I think this one was inspired by my husband craving seafood. Don't get me wrong, I love seafood too, but I think if he could, he'd top everything with a medley of crab and shrimp. My husband cooks dinner probably just as often as I do, and this was also probably a result of him cooking a couple nights in a row, and me wanting to make him something special that I knew he would like.

The stuffing is a mixture of crab, shrimp, herbs, cheese, and some other goodies. I didn't use scallops in there because I knew the taste would just be lost, therefor it wasn't worth the money. I baked it at a high temp, somewhere around 400. It was nice and medium rare to rare on the inside, with that ooey gooey tasty stuffing. Not overly seafoody believe it or not. It was really good.

The side is kale (home grown), one of our favorites. Since we eat it quite a bit, I decided to grow it in the garden this year. I usually saute some garlic and pine nuts in olive oil in a big saute pan and before it gets golden, I throw the washed and cut kale into the pan. Toss it a bit to get the olive oil, garlic, and pine nuts throughout, then add some vegetable or chicken stock (whatever I have) to it, cover it, and let it cook for about 10 minutes on a medium heat. It's good, I promise!

Such a feel good meal.