Monday, December 31, 2012

Mimosa Cupcakes

Well, here we are....New Year's Eve 2012.  Do you have exciting party plans tonight to ring in the new year?  Or are you more of the stay in, snuggled in front of the fire with a good movie and wait for the ball to drop on TV kind of celebrator?  Whatever your plans are, these Mimosa cupcakes are a fantastic treat for either occasion.  The recipe is available here. 

The ingredients.  Basic Mimosa flavors, OJ and Champagne (or Ginger Ale).

Let's get started.  Beat cake mix, ginger ale , OJ, oil, egg whites and orange peel.

Next step.  Divide batter evenly among baking cups.  Bake and cool.

Final step.  Beat powdered sugar, butter, ginger ale, OJ and orange peel until smooth and creamy.  Well, I never made it to smooth and creamy.  Thick and goopy, yep.  So I added a little more ginger ale and mixed.  Still very thick.  Add a little more OJ.  Ah, that's better.  Uh oh.  Why's my butter still sitting on the counter.  Well, better late than never.....I guess.  In goes the butter.  Now I have creamy and lumpy.  Yes, frosting can apparently be creamy and lumpy at the same time.  Let's just mix it a little more.  And maybe it'll get thicker if I just leave it alone for a few minutes.  OK, let's try it out.

Hmmm.  Not very thick.  Let's add some more powdered sugar. 

Taste test.  The cupcakes taste very good.  A little bit of orange flavor without being overwhelming.  The frosting.....tastes very sugary.    I added a little bit of white sparkling sugar to the top of the thicker frosting to give it a little sparkle for the holiday.  The frosting is as smooth as it's gonna get with having orange peel in it.  You can see my first runny, lumpy frosted cupcake in the background and the smoother, sugared frosted cupcake in the foreground above.  It's just not the kind of frosting that's going to look good spread on anything.  It needs to be thick (not as thick as I had it) and piped onto the cupcake.  Now that would be a pretty cupcake. 

Well, they aren't very elegant, but they are pretty good.  I really need to work on my frosting skills! 

And that's it.  One entire year of Adventures In Baking.  The adventures will continue, I'm just getting to know Myrtle (my new Kitchen Aid stand mixer) and I've saved enough recipes from this past year to keep me busy for 10 years.  So check back every once in a while and see if I've been up to my elbows in sugar, flour and frosting.  I do have that cookie recipe I've been saving .......... 

Have a safe and happy new year!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Lemon-White Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Hello and Welcome to Adventures in Baking!   This year has gone by very quickly and there's only one more episode to go for 2012.  Did you have a nice holiday filled with family and friends?  Did you have a White Christmas?  None of the white stuff for me this year on Christmas Day, but we certainly received a blizzard full today.  I'm not sure of the actually amount because of the winds and drifts, but the forecast was for 8-12 inches.  And there's another snowstorm heading this way in a few days.  Sounds like a good time to stay home where it's warm and toasty and test this Cheesecake recipe from Betty Crocker.  You can find the recipe here.

The ingredients.  Graham cracker's for the crust so you know that's gonna be good.  Lemon zest and lemon juice so you know it's gonna be a little tart.  White chocolate chips to add a little pizazz.

Let's get started.  Crush the graham crackers into fine crumbs.  Mix graham cracker crumbs, sugar and butter until crumbs are moistened. 

Spoon and lightly press mixture into bottom of baking cups.

Next step.  Beat cream cheese and sugar until well blended.  Beat in egg until smooth.  Add lemon peel and lemon juice and beat again. 

Final step.  Spoon 1 teaspoon cream cheese mixture into each cup.  Place 5-6 white chocolate chips on top and divide the remaining cream cheese evenly between the cups.  Bake 25-30 minutes.  Cool for 30 minutes on a rack and then refrigerate.
Taste test.  A great little bite or two.  Sweet and tart.  I could do without the chips in the middle, but I like the addition of melted white chocolate on top.  When I walked in the door of my parents house with these, they didn't even make it to the refrigerator before they were digging in!  I like that they're in the miniature baking cups so I don't have to commit to an entire piece of cheesecake. 
The clean up.  The recipe yielded 18 miniature cheesecake bites.  The recipe was quick and easy.  I'd like to try these with a strawberry glaze on top instead of the white chocolate. 

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Brown Sugar Pecan Cookies

Good Morning and Welcome to Adventures In Baking!  Are you enjoying the holiday season?  Do you have the gifts purchased and wrapped?  Meals planned and grocery lists made?  Cookies baked?  If you're looking for one more crowd pleasing little bite of heaven, look no further than these little beauties.  I found the recipe here.  The cookie photos made me drool so I knew I had to try them out! 

The ingredients.  Normal cookie stuff.  No weird ingredients in this one!

Let's get started.  Beat butter until creamy.  Add sugars and beat until smooth.  Add egg and vanilla and beat some more.  Myrtle is getting a workout with all this beating.  Oh yeah, I took my cousins suggestion and named my new mixer Myrtle after my great-grandmother.  She was the master of pie.  I'm certainly not a master of anything pastry related yet, but I can make a mean cookie. 

Next step.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix well.  Stir in chopped pecans. 

Final step.  Cover and chill for 30 minutes.  

And who can forget the frosting.  Combine brown sugar and half and half in a saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil.  Boil for 4 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in butter.  Add 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar and beat with a mixer until smooth. 

Taste test.  Ah-may-zing.  Sooooooo good.  I inhaled the first cookie so, of course, I had to try another to make sure the flavors were in harmony.  Yeah, I'll just keep telling myself that, haha.  The cookie portion is light and the frosting adds just the right amount of sweetness and the pecans on top are the perfect finishing touch. 

The clean up.  This recipe yielded 36 small cookies.  These were a hit with everyone that tried them.  Try them yourself and let me know what you think! 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Peppermint Cupcakes

Hello and Welcome to Adventures In Baking!  Can you believe we're closing in on the end of 2012?  Where has this year gone?  I'm still in holiday baking overdrive and couldn't wait to try to make Peppermint Cupcakes.  I'm not using any specific recipe this week and I'm using a box mix.  I thought that would be safer, Lol!  I absolutely love the smell of peppermint.  The Peppermint Chunkies cookies I made in January 2012 that really started this whole adventure are still one of my favorite items I made all year.  In fact, now that the Peppermint baking chips are out in the stores I'm stocking up so I can made them year round if I want to.  Who doesn't want a little hint of winter when it's August and 110 degrees outside? 

The ingredients.  Betty Crocker white cake mix and frosting.  Yes, I did.

Let's get started.  Follow the instructions on the box and mix the batter. 

Next step.  Separate one cup of batter and add peppermint extract and red food coloring.  I added a lot of peppermint.  A lot.  I didn't measure it, I just opened the spout and poured.  I really wanted the peppermint flavor to come through.  I also added a ton of red food coloring.  It takes quite a bit to get past the pink stages and into red but I finally made it to a shade I was happy with.

Final step.  Fill the paper baking cups half full with batter.  Then add a tablespoon of red batter and top it with another tablespoon of original batter.  This gives the cupcakes a cool marbled look once you take a bite.  Bake.

Frosting.  I added more peppermint extract to the white frosting.  You know, just in case there wasn't enough in the cupcakes.  And I topped them off with a sprinkling of Andes Peppermint baking chips from one of the bags I'm hoarding.

Taste test.   Love.  Love.  Love.  Were you afraid I'd added too much peppermint extract?  Yeah, me too.  But I really don't think there's any such thing.  My taste testers snarfed these and asked for more.  You need to make these.  You're welcome.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Soft Gingersnaps with White Chocolate Chips

Good Morning and Welcome to Adventures In Baking!  One of the traditional holiday flavors I wanted to tackle this month is Gingerbread.  I thought about baking gingerbread and building a gingerbread house out of it, but let's face it......while the opportunity for misadventure is extremely high, it's way too much work with everything else I have going on right  now.  Maybe in January, once things get back to 'normal' around here and I don't leave the house because it's too darn cold and windy I'll tackle a gingerbread house.  Errr, a ginger-snowman-bread house. So instead of bread, I decided to try out these gingersnap cookies with white chocolate.  You can click right here to see the recipe from Two Peas and Their Pod.  This is the first recipe I've tried from the site, but it comes highly recommended.

The ingredients.  Let's talk about molasses for just a moment.  Have you ever tasted molasses?  Or smelled molasses and lived to tell the tale?  Cause the smell about knocked me to the floor.  Who in the world took a whiff of this stuff and thought hmmmmm, I bet this will taste really good on my breakfast? Bleck.  Now, up till this point, for some reason,  I associated molassas with pancakes.  Or grits.  Although I'm not sure what grits are either.  I thought it was sweet, like syrup.  Oh, how wrong I was.  In fact, when I was in the store searching for the bottle, I started in the pancake syrup aisle.  When I couldn't  find it there, I headed to the area with ketchup and bar-b-que sauce.  Nope, not there either.  The only other place I could think of was with the salad dressing.  Not because I thought it would go with salad, but it's an area that has lots of things in bottles.  When I couldn't find it there either, I headed back to the pancake syrup.  And, sure enough, there it was, in the corner, on the bottom shelf, beside the maple syrup.  Apparently not too popular of an item if it's hiding down there.  Let's continue on with the cookies, but we'll revisit the molasses again here soon.
Let's get started.  See my new assistant!!  Isn't she pretty?  All bright and shiny.  I finally did it.  And I got a good deal on it.  Yipee!!  I haven't named her yet, but I'm open to suggestions.  Just had to back to our cookies.
Cream together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.

Next step.  Beat in the molasses, canola oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt and spices.  Mix well.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth.  OK, back to the molasses....As I was placing the lid back on the jar I happened to notice this little tidbit on the front label:  Fun Fact - Did you know elephants love molasses?  Why no, I did not know elephants love molasses.  Way to expand my trivia knowledge.

Slowly add in the flour and stir in the white chocolate chips. 

Final step.  Scoop the dough into balls and roll in sugar.  Bake for 10 minutes. 

Taste test.  I have to be honest with you, I was scared to taste these after enduring the smell of the molasses.  My opinion ...... They're pretty good.  The sugar coating and white chocolate give them a little bit of sweetness and they now smell like cookies rather than liquid tree bark.  Or what I imagine liquid tree bark smells like.  My mom is gonna like these. 

Well, that's it for another episode of Adventures In Baking.  I'm packing up my cookies and heading out to sunny Florida for a Disney vacation with the family but I'll be back here next week to share a Peppermint adventure that's perfect for the holdiays.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Chocolate Mint Brownie Bites

Hello and Welcome to Adventures In Baking!  I don't know about you but I'm ready to jump right into Holiday Baking.  I've seen so many recipes I'd like to try that it's been extremely difficult to narrow down my selection.  With all the apple and pumpkin inspired goodness I've tried this fall, it's been awhile since I focused on chocolate.  So that's what we're testing out today, chocolate with a little mint.  I'm using a recipe I found at Tasty Kitchen and you can get all the details right here. 

The ingredients.  Butter, sugar, eggs, mint extract and chocolate.  Easy enough.

Let's get started.  Melt chocolate in a bowl in the microwave.  Remove from microwave and stir in 8 Andes Mints until it's all melted.  Let cool slightly.  I followed the directions on the box for melting the chocolate, but I zapped it for 30 more seconds once I added the Andes Mints so it would be nice and smooth.

Next step.  Cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Drizzle in the cooled chocolate mixture slowly until it's combined.  Add flour and mix thoroughly.  Add mint extract and mix it again.

Final step.  Use a cookie scoop to scoop batter into mini muffin tin.  Bake about 15 minutes. 

Turn the brownies out upside down to cool. 
Combine 25 Andes Mints in a bowl with butter and chopped chocolate. Microwave and stir until melted and smooth.  Dip the brownie 'tops' in the chocolate.  Chop the remaining Andes Mints and sprinkle them on top.
Taste test.  Ohhh yeah.  These smell just like Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies.  And they taste really good too.  They're much lighter than I thought they'd be.  I thought they'd be a thick, heavy, very chocolaty brownie, but they're reasonably light in texture.  They're very cute.  There's a lot of unwrapping mints and chopping chocolate so I wouldn't want to make a lot of these.  They would be nice to make as a fun little treat for a few special people on my Christmas list.

Are you ready to start your holiday baking?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Spiced Pear Cake with Browned Butter Icing

Hello and Happy Thanksgiving!  I love that this day is about taking a little time to be thankful for the good things in life - family, friends, health and the chance to be together.  And today's Adventures In Baking recipe is a great one to share with the special people in your life.  I used the recipe from Recipe Girl that can be found here.  Instead of making two loaves of bread, I baked one loaf and 12 mini bundt cakes.  Aren't they adorable?

The ingredients.  Quite a few components.  All purpose and whole wheat flour to make them a little bit healthier.  Pears, applesauce and milk.

Let's get started.  In a medium bowl, toss the pears with the white and brown sugars, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Set aside.  (Note** Lots of bowls used with this recipe)
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
 Next step.  In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, milk, oil and applesauce.  Whisk in the dry ingredients until they are just combined - don't over mix.

Stir in the pears and all their juice. 

Divide the batter between you pans.  I baked the mini bundts 20 minutes and the loaf 60 minutes.

Final step.  Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes and then turn them out onto a rack to cool.

And the icing,  Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Heat and stir for 5-7 minutes until the butter is lightly browned.  Remove it from the heat and pour it in a bowl.  Whisk in 1 cup of powdered sugar.  Add 3 teaspoons of water and the vanilla.  Whisk in more powdered sugar a little at a time until it's thick but pourable.  Drizzle icing onto the cakes.

Taste test.  Oh so good.  The applesauce and pears keep it moist and the icing adds just the right amount of sweetness.  Ummmmm.... had to taste another one!  Yes, still super good.  This may be one of my favorite things I've made lately.  I wrapped the loaf and placed it in the freezer for later but shared the little bundts with the co-workers.  Everyone said they were really good so try them out for yourself!
Have a safe a happy holiday!