Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Glory Days

Back in my college, my good friend Emme and I used to have a Monday morning tradition: coffee and coffee cake from Starbucks.
I have to admit, over the years I’ve had a hard time finding a recipe for coffee cake that was as good as Starbucks’. The were often too dry or too sweet. I had just about given up hope until last night I made a blueberry crumb cake. This is my new go-to coffee cake recipe-it’s incredibly moist with just the right amount of crumb topping. And while Emme now lives 2,00 miles away, I still smile and think of her every time I have coffee cake for breakfast. 
Blueberry Crumb Cake
Adapted from Tish Boyle’s Sour-Cream Blueberry Crumb Cake
Crumb Topping
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Blueberry Cake
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup plain yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Make the Topping
1. In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well blended. Add the melted butter to the mix, stirring until the butter is absorbed and the dry ingredients are uniformly moistened. Set aside.

Make the Cake
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9-inch square baking pan.
2. In another medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until well blended.
3. In a small bowl, toss the blueberries with 1 tablespoon of the flour mixture until the berries are coated; set aside. In another small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and vanilla and set aside.

4. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter and granulated sugar at medium speed until fluffy, about 4 minutes. Beat in eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. At low speed, beat in the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with yogurt in two additions. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the blueberries. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth top with an offset spatula.

5. Sprinkle the crumb topping evenly over the batter, breaking up any large lumps with your fingers.

6. Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40-45 minutes. Place the cake on a wire rack and let cool completely.

7. Cut the cake and serve from the pan. Store at room temperature, covered with foil, for up to 3 days. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Candy Craving

What could be better than a peanut butter cake with chocolate frosting? One that is sprinkled with crushed Butterfinger candy! I made this special cake for my friend’s birthday last week-the sour cream makes the cake moist and not too sweet.
Peanut Butter-Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Butterfinger Ganache Glaze
Adapted from Lauren Chattman's Recipe
For the Cake
1 cup sour cream
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
For the Glaze
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 Butterfinger bar, chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 12-cup Bundt pan and dust with flour. Whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. 
2. Combine the butter, peanut butter, and brown sugar in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium-high until fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
3. Reduce the speed to low; add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Add 1/2 of the sour cream mixture. Repeat, alternating flour and sour cream mixtures ending with the flour mixture, scraping down the sides of bowl between each addition. Turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for 1 minute.
4. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for  minutes, then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Place the chocolate and corn syrup in a heatproof bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until it comes to a boil. Add the chocolate to the cream and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth.

6. Pour the warm glaze over the cake, letting it drip down the sides. Sprinkle the chopped Butterfinger bar over the glaze. let stand until gaze is set, about 30 minutes. Slice and serve. Store cake at room temperature in a cake keeper for up to 3 days.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Favorite Cupcake

There’s something irresistible about red velvet cupcakes-maybe it’s the cream cheese frosting or the smokey, brick-like color. Either way, what better excuse than Valentine's Day to bake your favorite cupcake?
Red Velvet Cupcakes  
Makes 24 standard sized cupcakes or one 8-inch layer cake
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup hot water
2 teaspoons red gel food coloring
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar 
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
2 teaspoons vinegar
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 large eggs
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two muffin pans (or butter and flour two 8-inch cake pans); set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa powder, hot water, and food coloring; set aside to cool.
In a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Stir in the buttermilk and vanilla into the cooled cocoa mixture.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on medium, add the flour mixture and cocoa mixture to the sugar mixture, beginning and ending with the flour. Be careful not to over-beat the batter.
In a small bowl, use a spoon to combine the vinegar and baking soda, stirring until the baking soda dissolves. Fold into the batter  until just combined.
Use a large cookie scoop and fill each cup 3/4 full. Bake cupcakes for 15-17 minutes, if making a cake bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. 
Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

May I Have S'more?

Valentine’s Day is a great holiday for crafts. S'mores on a stick was an idea from a wedding favor but I thought it would be a great treat for Valentine's Day. Not only are they cute but they are simple enough you could make them with your kids. I found the lollipop sticks, treat bags, and ribbon all at Michael’s Craft store. 

What you’ll need:
-Lollipop sticks
-Crumbled graham crackers
-Milk chocolate pieces (I used E. Guittard wafers)
-Double boiler
-Clear 4x6 treat bags
1. Insert lollipop stick into marshmallows and set aside.
2. Crumbled graham crackers. I put them in a plastic bag and rolled it with a rolling pin.
3. Melt milk chocolate in double boiler. It is easier to work in small batches; you’ll need about 4 ounces for every 8 marshmallows.
4. Holding the marshmallow stick over the double boiler, use a rubber or silicone spatula to coat the marshmallow with chocolate.

5. Roll the marshmallow in graham cracker crumbs.

6. Insert lollipop into a piece of styrofoam and let chocolate set.

7. Put the s’more in the treat bag and tie with a 12-inch long ribbon. 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Guinness Just Got Better

I must have been in the mood for a Guinness as I was flipping through this month’s Better Homes and Garden because the idea of a stout chocolate sauce poured over vanilla bean ice cream was irresistible. Don’t feel bad if you find yourself eating this sauce by the spoonful, I did it too.
If you want to make a somebody’s day, pour half of the sauce into a mason jar, tie a ribbon or twine around it, and give to a friend-instant joy!
Guinness Chocolate Sauce
 Adapted from BHG Easy Fudge Sauce
Yield: 12 servings
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup Guinness 
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar and cocoa powder; set aside.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter with the half-and-half. Cook and stir over medium high heat until mixture begins to bubble around the outside of pan, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low and add the cocoa mixture. Cook, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth and thickened, about 5 minutes. 
3. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and Guinness. 
Store, covered, in refrigerator up to one week. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Because Game Time is Snack Time

Snacks and the Super Bowl go hand in hand-why not cook up some hot, fresh pretzels for your Super Bowl party? If you have many guests coming over, use a sharp knife to cut the rope of dough into squares for pretzel bites-delicious! 
From start to finish these pretzels take about 2 hours to make and since they are best hot out of the oven so you’ll want to plan your time accordingly.

Homemade Soft Pretzels
From Alton Brown's Food Network recipe
Yield: 8 pretzels
Prep: 30 minutes
Inactive: 1 hour
Cook: 25 minutes
1 1/2 cups warm (110-115 degrees) water
1 tablespoon sugar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 package active dry yeast
22 ounces all purpose flour, approximately 4 1/2 cups
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil for pan
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk beaten with 1 tablespoon water
Pretzel salt 
1. Combine the water, sugar and kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam. Add the flour and butter and, using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed until well combined.

2. Change to medium speed and knead until the dough is smooth and pulls away from the side of the bowl, approximately 4 to 5 minutes. Remove the dough from the bowl, clean the bowl and then oil it well with vegetable oil. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and sit in a warm place for approximately 50 to 55 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

3. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line 2 half-sheet pans with parchment paper and lightly brush with the vegetable oil. Set aside.

4. Bring the 10 cups of water and the baking soda to a rolling boil in an 8-quart saucepan or roasting pan.

5. In the meantime, turn the dough out onto a slightly oiled work surface and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece of dough into a 24-inch rope. Make a U-shape with the rope, holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U in order to form the shape of a pretzel. Place onto the parchment-lined half sheet pan.

6. Place the pretzels into the boiling water, 1 by 1, for 30 seconds. Remove them from the water using a large flat spatula. Return to the half sheet pan, brush the top of each pretzel with the beaten egg yolk and water mixture and sprinkle with the pretzel salt. Bake until dark golden brown in color, approximately 12 to 14 minutes.