Friday, October 28, 2011

Malt Ball Madness

Growing up, my sister and I loved Whopper Malt Balls. Sometimes our dad would buy us a carton and tell us we’d have to share.  We intended to ration it out so the carton would last all weekend but would inevitably eat so much the first day the roofs of our mouth were so sore we couldn’t eat any the following day. You’d think we’d lose our love of the malt ball (or learn not to eat so many at one time) but never did. 
I loved the idea of making cupcakes inspired by the malt balls we loved so much as kids-even better, these won’t scratch up the roof of your mouth so feel free to eat as many as you’d like!
Malt Ball Cupcakes
Adapted from Baked’s Milk Chocolate Mall Ball Cake Recipe 
Yield: 24 cupcakes
2 cups cake flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup Carnation malted milk powder
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups ice cold water
4 large egg whites, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees (if using non-stick pans, preheat oven to 300 degrees). Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. 
Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Whisk in the malted milk powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening on medium speed until creamy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to low. Add the flour mixture, alternating with the ice water, in three additions, beginning and ending with the flour. Scrape down the bowl, then mix on low speed for a few more seconds.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Do not over-beat. Gently fold the egg whites into the batter.
Fill the muffin liners no more than 2/3 full. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted in the center of cupcake comes out clean. Transfer pans to cooling rack, let cool for about 15 minutes. Remove cupcakes from pan and let cool completely on wire rack before frosting.
Yield: Enough to frost 15-20 regular cupcakes  
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tablespoon 2% reduced fat milk, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in a double boiler over barely simmering water. Stir occasionally until it has completely melted and is quite smooth. Leave to cool slightly.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter, milk, vanilla, and confectioners’ sugar until smooth-this can take several minutes with and electric hand mixer (I mixed mine in my standing mixer with a paddle attachment). Add the melted chocolate and beat again until thick and creamy. If it looks too runny, simply keep beating-this will thicken the frosting and improve its consistency. 
Frost and decorate your cupcakes. I loved the ones decorated with chopped up malt balls, they had just the right amount of crunch.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

And the Winner Is...

This year I tested four new pumpkin loaf/cake recipes (one from a trendy bakery cookbook; one from a celebrity chef; a friend’s family recipe; and the last from my tried-and-true Tartine cookbook). I should have known that Tartine’s recipe would be the best but I mistakenly had the pre-conceived notion that a tea cake would be too heavy. Instead, it was similar in density to a carrot cake with a soft, springy crumb with a slightly spicy flavor. This cake was delicious but I wish I had thought to try it with Bourbon whipped cream before I finished the last slice!

Adapted from Tartine’s recipe for Pumpkin Tea Cake.  I prefer to  mix this recipe by hand.
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup + 2 tablespoons pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
Cinnamon Sugar topping: 1 tablespoon sugar + 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, mixed together.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter the bottom and sides of a 9-by-5 loaf pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves into a mixing bowl and set aside.
In another mixing bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, oil, sugar, and salt until well mixed. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  Add the flour mixture and whisk until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and whisk for about 5 to 10 seconds to make a smooth batter. The batter should have the consistency of a thick puree.
Transfer the batter to the prepared loaf pan and smooth the surface with an offset spatula. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar. Bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 15 minutes, then remove from pan and let cool completely on wire rack. Serve at room temperature. The cake will keep, well wrapped, at room temperature for about 4 days.
While I haven’t made Bourbon whipped cream before, I’m guessing my starting point will be about 1 cup heavy cream, 1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar, and 1 teaspoon Bourbon and adjust to taste.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

"Where's the Tupperware?"

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t going to bake this week.  I fell in love with the cake decorations in the cookbook “Organic and Chic” and was planning to teach myself how to make gum paste flowers in my free time. 
However, my friends at work start getting anxious when Wednesday rolls around and I haven’t baked. I’ve even had a couple of friends take to Facebook to beg for sweet treats and a couple of days ago when I walked into the office my boss stopped what he was doing to swivel his chair around to ask where my (now famous) big red Tupperware container was.     
So, due to popular demand, I baked a quick batch of Snickerdoodles, one of my favorite cookies. Thanks to a Google search about a year ago, I found "How Sweet It Is" recipe for Fat Fluffy Snickerdoodles, which are so good I've never tried another Snickerdoodle recipe.  I love these cookies-they definitely live up to their name, they are super soft and very flavorful.    

Fat Fluffy Snickerdoodles
Makes 16-20 cookies
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 tablespoons milk
1/4 cup sugar + 1 tablespoon cinnamon for dipping
Preheat oven to 375.
Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, mixing well until combine, about 2 minutes. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix until dough comes together. Add in milk. If dough is still crumbly, add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until it comes together. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
In a bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Remove dough from fridge and roll into big 1 1/2 inch balls. Dip in cinnamon sugar mixture and place on baking sheet. Lightly press down on dough to flatten it. Bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

In Anticipation of Pumpkin Fest

I've been so excited about Half Moon Bay's Art and Pumpkin Festival, I've been baking all sorts of pumpkin treats. It took a couple of tries but I came up with a recipe for pumpkin pancakes that, if you top with Williams-Sonoma Pecan Pumpkin Butter and a little maple syrup, taste just like pumpkin pie.  I made them for friends yesterday and got rave reviews. 
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/8 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups buttermilk 
3/4 cup canned pure pumpkin
2 large eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk dry ingredients in large bowl to blend. Whisk milk, pumpkin, eggs, oil and vanilla in medium bowl to blend well. Add pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients; mix just until smooth (batter will be thick).
Spray large nonstick skillet with non-stick spray; heat over medium heat. Working in batches, pour a ladleful of batter into skillet. Cook until bubbles form on surface of pancakes, about 1 1/2 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining batter, spraying pan as needed.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Love, Love, Love

Love yogurt, love Nutella, love cake! 
I was looking for an alternative to a traditional coffee cake when I saw this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, “Radically Simple”, and knew it was going to be perfect. I served it plain with coffee in the morning but it would be great for dessert with fresh whipped cream.  
French Yogurt Cake with Nutella
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 extra large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Nutella
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan. Melt butter in a saucepan; set aside to cool. Mix together the flour, baking powder, and a large pinch of salt. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, and vanilla until thick, about 3 minutes. Add the flour mixture, yogurt, and melted butter; mix until smooth.
Pour two-thirds of the batter into the pan. Add the Nutella to the remaining batter and beat until smooth. Pour atop the plain batter. Run a rubber spatula through the batter to make a marbled pattern. Bake 40-45 minutes, until just firm. Cool on a rack. Release the side of pan and serve.