Monday, December 22, 2014

Drunken Bacon Jam

Christmas. Not really my favorite time of year. Mostly because I have worked in retail for about 80% of my working life thus far. I have seen what Christmas does to people. So in order to avoid the angry crowds and long lines I make most of my gifts. Good thing my family and friends love my creations! For my Dad this year I wanted to stray from the usual sweets and chocolates and give him something savory. Enter my favorite baking goddess: Brown Eyed Baker. Her recipes are always simple yet daring, and this one was no exception. I modified the recipe just a bit to give it my own "sauced" spin. Its a good thing it makes a large batch, because after I tested the finished product I was sure that my Dad was going to want both of the jars that I made.

Drunken Bacon Jam

  • 1 lb. thick cut bacon, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup brewed dark roast coffee
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. Jameson Irish Whiskey, feel free to add more if desired
  • 1/3 rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
Brown the bacon in a large saucepan, about 20 minutes or until crisp. Remove the bacon pieces and saute the onions in the bacon grease until softened, about 10 minutes. Lower the heat and return the bacon to the pan as you add in the remaining ingredients, in no particular order. Allow the mixture to thicken at a low simmer for 1 -1 1/2 hours. Let the mixture cool and then transfer it to a food processor, pulse the bacon mixture until it reaches a jam-like consistency, do not puree. It may have a few chunks of bacon left, but I have never met a soul who didn't appreciate chunks of bacon, and if they don't there is something very wrong with them....

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Peppermint Cake

I feel as though this cake should come with a disclaimer of "Enjoy before New Year's Day", since most of the population's resolutions have to do with weight loss and this cake is no friend to your waistline. It is however, perfect for the holiday season as it features the most traditional flavor of Christmas: peppermint. This cake uses the same recipe as the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cake, just the frosting has been altered. And by altered I mean that it contains 2 sticks of butter! Try it for yourself and see if it doesn't clog your arteries and expand your thighs.

Peppermint Frosting

  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract
In a large bowl mix the butter, extracts, and salt together until smooth, gradually add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until the frosting becomes thick and shiny. Spread onto your cooled cake and decorate as desired. I styled mine up for a Christmas party so it would make a statement. Please excuse my lack of photography skills, it was part of a dessert buffet,

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cake

At the request of my cousin, probably the blog's biggest fan, I will now bombard you poor souls with holiday recipes, including a boozy cupcake set to start off the new year with a twist of whiskey! Who would dare turn their nose up at that? This cake was really born of last minute delays and pantry staples. My parents celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary this month, and they have yet to kill each other... I'm so proud of their self-control. I wanted to give them a gift that reflected the occasion. I looked into weekend lake rentals, sports tickets, and even spa weekends at hotels out of town. Unfortunately, my budget could not handle my grand plans, so I fell back on my trusted baking talent and made them an extravagant cake. Now, if only my mother had remembered her own anniversary. But the look of surprise and fear on her face was priceless when I told her I made something for her and Dad's anniversary. "What, that today?!"

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bliss Cake

For the Cake:

  • 3/4 cup butter, unsalted
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter and sugar, adding the eggs one at a time until the batter is smooth. Add the vanilla. In a small bowl combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Alternately mix the flour mixture and milk into the wet batter until it is all combined. Grease two cake pans and pour the batter evenly between the two, bake for 16-20 minutes. While the cakes cool you can throw together this amazing peanut butter frosting recipe:

For the Frosting:
  • 8 oz. pkg. of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 4-6 cups powdered sugar, depends on your desired 'spreadability'
  • 1-4 tsp. milk, just as needed
Make sure that your cream cheese has come to room temperature before beginning this process, nothing worse than small pockets of cream cheese in your finished frosting. Mix the cream cheese and peanut butter together in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla. Gradually mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time, adding a teaspoon of milk as needed to prevent it from getting too tough. In the end, this frosting is incredibly thick and rather difficult to spread. Take your time and I promise the reward is worth it. After your cakes have cooled they are ready to be frosted, but for some extra panache I gave mine a rich filling. I had half a jar of crunchy peanut butter and a bag of chocolate chips in my pantry, so into the cake they went. I nuked the peanut butter in the microwave for about 30 seconds to make it more pliable, I then topped it with chocolate chips. After frosting my cake I used some of the chocolate chips to decorate mine, but to each their own. Keep in mind the frosting recipe makes quite a bit, and although unsightly, I highly recommend eating the rest out of the bowl. 

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Double Feature

Let me begin my three part apology/excuse for not blogging in October by first stating that I was actively baking last month, some of the recipes were just not up to my high standards. I decided to make up for it by including a double feature in November due to the onset of the ultimate foodie holiday of Thanksgiving. And finally, we come to the real reason that I did not blog last month...unheard of and inconsolable depression. Let me paint a picture for you, if I may, imagine a young baker who has readied herself for Halloween by planning all sorts of delicious homemade candy recipes and indulged far too much in the seasonal pumpkin spice coffee creamer. Now picture this girl being told that two weeks prior to her baking extravaganza she must have her wisdom teeth removed. Do you feel the fear yet? Not only is a wisdom tooth extraction painful for your mouth in general, it also does unspeakable damage to your sweet tooth. Not only was my diet significantly altered for more days than I care to recall, but it gives one a new found respect and severe dislike for caramel and other deliciously sticky foods. In my melancholy state I temporarily lost the itch to create, as all I could think about was how easily said food could be ingested without causing any damage to my healing gums. Let me tell you from experience that digging food out of your "golf divots" is both unattractive and tedious. But I digress, Thanksgiving provided some much needed baking meditation and allowed me to explore new frontiers and revisit old ones. I often infuse my cupcakes with liquor to enhance the flavor but I have never attempted a cupcake spiked with soda before. After receiving a not-so-subtle nudge from my cousin to re-create a recipe for Mountain Dew flavored cupcakes, (I was gifted the required ingredients for my birthday) I accepted the challenge. I will say this, they are definitely different, the flavor is very light and the soda made for a very spongy cake.

Mountain Dew Cupcakes

  • 1 box of lemon cake mix (don't shoot, I was just following the recipe)
  • 1 box of lemon pudding mix
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/4 cups Mountain Dew soda
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix together the cake mix, pudding, and eggs until well combined. Add the vegetable oil and soda slowly, it tends to fizz a bit. Spoon the batter into cupcake liners and bake for 15-17 minutes or until slightly browned around the edges. While the cupcakes cool, you can whip up this simple frosting:

  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/8 cup Mountain Dew soda
  • 1/2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 tbsp. lime juice
Cream the butter and citrus juices until smooth, add the soda and continue mixing. Add the powdered sugar one cup at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. I zested the lemon and lime before juicing them to add some color and decor to the top of the finished cupcakes. I will say that there was not an overwhelming soda flavor from this recipe, it mostly tasted like a very dense lemon cake, but what makes my cousin happy makes the me happy!

Salted Caramel Apple Tart
  • 1 sheet of thawed puff pastry
  • 2-3 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 2-3 tbsp. salted caramel sauce, recipe follows
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a flat sheet pan with wax paper. Place the puff pastry dough in the center of the pan and arrange the sliced apples in a fan pattern atop the dough. Sprinkle the sugar over the apples and strategically dot with the cubes of butter. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the edges brown, they may also burn a little bit because of the sugar,but have no fear. As the tart cools, carefully make the salted caramel sauce as follows:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 12 tbsp. unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp. Fleur de Sel, or other fine sea salt
Heat the sugar in a medium sauce pan, stirring constantly. It will clump before it starts to brown, so don't worry. If you have a candy thermometer handy wait until it reads 350 before you add the butter, otherwise wait until it reaches a deep amber color. Caramel can burn easily and it will never recover, so be sure that you can provide it with your full attention. Add the butter and be sure to stir as you do so, it will bubble up violently but this is normal. After the butter has dissolved, off the heat add in the cream and mix until it is smooth. Give the caramel a moment to rest and then add the salt. Allow it to cool and thicken before topping your apple tart with its gooey goodness. This dessert is one of my favorites as it is simple to prepare and is sure to wow any crowd. 

Monday, September 29, 2014

Banofee Pie

If there is one thing I enjoy most about the creative process behind cooking and baking, it is the license you are given to deter from a recipe and make it your own. Case in point, Banofee Pie. Being a traditional British dessert it has many variations, based on region and apparently their Grandmother's own preferences. I saw recipes that called for everything from dulce de leche to caramel sauce or whipped cream to cream cheese as the components of the filling. The one constant was bananas and toffee, which gives the dish its namesake. I'm not a terribly huge fan of bananas, but I'm trying this thing where I give certain foods a second chance. And if I'm going to cover it in caramel and toffee it should mask the banana flavor pretty well, don't you think? Because I am a poor post-grad with very little time on my hands I cheated and used a store bought graham cracker crust and jarred salted caramel sauce. Keep your pitchforks and torches at bay, please! I am saving my baking energy for the numerous Christmas presents I will have to bake in just a few months time. I would however like to apologize in advance for the less than stellar picture of my pie. I wanted to showcase all of the layers inside of it, but it had other plans, like melting into a beautiful gooey mess. But sometimes the ugliest food turns out to have the best flavor, and my roommates can vouch for its amazing flavor as it disappeared all too quickly!

Banofee Pie
  • 3 ripe bananas, smashed with a fork
  • 1 jar of salted caramel ice cream topping
  • 1 bag of Heath bits
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup of powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 store bought graham cracker crust
Thankfully this is a "bake-less" recipe all that is really involved is layering the ingredients in the pie crust. First, smash the bananas in a shallow bowl and transfer them to the pie crust, they will act as the base. Next, warm your salted caramel sauce and spoon it over the bananas (save a little for garnish), adding about 3/4 of the bag of Heath bits. Next is the only real labor involved in this pie, making the chocolate whipped cream! Whisk together the cocoa powder and heavy cream until they are well combined. add the vanilla and powdered sugar and whip on high speed until soft peaks form. Dollop the whipped cream on top of the pie and smooth over with a rubber spatula. Garnish the pie with the remaining salted caramel sauce and Heath bits. Refridgerate after serving, that is, if it makes it that far.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Strawberry Ice Cream Cake

Many of my friends, family, and fans have encouraged me to go to culinary school, or start a baking business, and my father and I often plan lavish menus for our imaginary restaurants after a Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives marathon. As much as I would love to have a job where I baked to heart's content everyday I am too picky of an eater for that. Whether it be from allergies or general distaste there is a long list of foods that are just not palatable to me. Strawberries are one of the foods that I am allergic to, it just so happens that my oldest niece loves them. Go figure. For her 5th birthday this year ("I'm a whole hand old, Auntie!") I quizzed her on what kind of cake she wanted me to make for her and she was firm with her demand for a strawberry ice cream cake. Pretty ambitious for a 5 year old, but she does take after her Auntie. I looked at many recipes for this one, and decided that I would create my own...who knew it would be such a hit. It looks deceptively simple from the outside covered in Cool Whip and halved strawberries but the inside contains a beautiful surprise. Now that I have mastered the delicate art of ice cream cakes there are all kinds of varieties I am dying to try, I will just have to find the occasion. The fact that I have once again paid my electric bill before it was due is not necessarily the kind of celebration that calls for ice cream cake.

Strawberry Ice Cream Cake
  • 2 boxes of French Vanilla cake mix (cheating, I know)
  • 1 pint of strawberry ice cream
  • 1 large tub of Cool Whip
  • 1 carton of strawberries, halved
For the ice cream center simply thaw the pint of ice cream and pour it into a wax paper lined pie pan to re-freeze. I made mine a little more decadent by adding extra chopped strawberries and chunks of plain cheesecake to the thawed ice cream before re-freezing it, feel free to follow my example! Many recipes suggested letting the ice cream freeze in its new mold anywhere from 4 hours to overnight, the choice is up to you. Meanwhile, bake the two cakes according to the directions and allow them to cool sufficiently. I found that popping my cakes in the freezer for 30 minutes really helped the cooling process. After the cakes have cooled trim the tops so you have an even surface to work with and simply layer the cake, ice cream, and more cake until they all fit perfectly. Because of my time constraints I allowed my cake to freeze over night before I had the chance to ice it, and it proved to be the best idea so far. It was so easy to spread the Cool Whip over a frozen cake, not having to fear any stray crumbs messing up your frosting job. My beautiful niece then helped me decorate her cake with strawberries and it turned out perfect, everyone loved it!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Summer Double Feature

Summer always brings with it plenty of occasions for baking and celebrating, from holidays to birthdays it seems like there is forever something requiring your attention. Since I have been on a baking spree at home lately I thought I should at least take the chance and blog about some of my creations. So far this month I have made Deep Fried Peanut Butter, (which will surely make an appearance here soon) Chocolate Mug Cake, Mexican Churros, Chocolate Zucchini Bread, and Potato Latkes. Despite the perpetual mess my kitchen has been I found the time to experiment with savory cupcakes, something that has long been on my baking bucket list. The company I work for has employees whose respective birthdays fall every month, this prompts us to have a "Food Day" about once a month. We chose a food genre and bring food from home and munch on the offerings throughout the workday. For my manager's birthday we all decided on Italian food. My roommate and I tackled Lasagna Cupcakes and Honeyed Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Ganache for dessert. Both of these recipes presented challenges, on a personal and emotional level. The Lasagna Cupcakes required wonton wrappers, and after two trips to specialty grocery stores we finally made the trek to the Asian district and found the sought after wrappers in the frozen section of a very putrid smelling Asian market, my nose may never recover after that odyssey. The Honeyed Banana Cupcakes proved to test my limits in other ways...after removing them to a plate on the kitchen counter I returned to my movie in the living room, unbeknownst to all of us in the house the dog decided that they didn't need to be left alone to cool by themselves. Twenty minutes later I found myself at the local market buying the same ingredients for a second time and the dog had been banished to the garage after a sound tongue lashing by her owner. Needless to say, after a long night our duo of cupcakes were ready for their debut, in addition to everyone at work loving them we now have a new favorite meal to add to our nightly repertoire at home.

Lasagna Cupcakes

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. ground beef or Italian sausage
  • 1 can preferred pasta sauce
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup shredded Italian cheese blend, plus more for topping
  • 1 8oz. container ricotta cheese
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1 pkg. wonton wrappers, available at most Asian markets
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. In a small pan saute the garlic and onion in the olive oil, add the ground beef and cook through. Once the meat has browned add the can of your desired pasta sauce and salt and pepper if needed then set aside. For the cheese filling, mix together the ricotta and Italian cheeses adding the seasoning at the end. Be sure the wonton wrappers have thawed and grease the inside of the cupcake pan, this helps them come out much easier. Place a wrapper on the bottom of each opening, ladle a small amount of the meat mixture on top, layer another wrapper at a 90 degree angle from the first and smear the cheese mixture on top. Place another wrapper at the opposite angle and top with a small dollop of the meat mixture and top with a few shreds of the Italian cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the edges of the wrappers have browned slightly and the cheese has melted. This is a great option for potlucks and easy for kids to help you with too!

Honeyed Banana Cupcakes with Nutella Ganache
(Adapted from

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 3 large extra ripe bananas, smashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
For the Nutella ganache:

  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 2 -3 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl add the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center of the dry mixture and add the bananas, butter, vanilla, honey, and eggs. Whisk together until well combined, the batter will be a bit lumpy. Spoon the batter into your desired cupcake liners and bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. For the ganache, add all of the ingredients into a microwave safe bowl and melt on high for thirty second intervals, stirring in between. Once the cupcakes have cooled use a spoon and drizzle the ganache over the top, or you can dunk them into the chocolate and coat every bite in gooey goodness.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

Any girl can tell you that the relationship with their Father is a special one, we never truly stop being "Daddy's Little Girl" no matter how much time passes. My Father and I are no exception, I am practically a son to him as well as a daughter. We both enjoy off color humor, military history, and on many a weekend you can find us solving the world's problems from the comfort of the living room couch. Despite all of the similarities that we share, one of our true loves is chocolate. As Father's Day approached I had planned on making him a classic butter cupcakes with chocolate frosting, a timeless favorite. But I am never one to go the plain route, these cupcakes needed something to set it apart, to be just as special as my Dad. Few things can enhance the flavor of chocolate without totally masking the rich flavor, Whoppers came to mind. Those perfect little malted milk balls covered in chocolate are one of my Dad's favorite treats, and it would give the cupcakes just the touch they needed. At first I had all sorts of plans for elaborate decorations and complicated recipes, but I thought why not keep it simple. Use the time it would take me to make crazy-hard cupcakes and just spend it with my old man? We spent the weekend killing Nazis and liberating Europe alongside Gen. Patton and eating more than our share of the cupcakes. These cakes were a simple reminder that sometimes you need to appreciate the little things in life and cherish the time spent with your Dad quoting movie lines and discussing the difference in world politics between 1940 and 2014.

Chocolate Malt Cupcakes

  • 1 Box of Yellow Cake Mix (Hey, I was spending time with Dad, not destroying the kitchen)
  • 1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 bag powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup malted milk powder
  • 5 - 8 tbsp. milk
  • 1 Box of Whoppers, for decoration
Preheat the oven according to the temperature on the boxed cake mix, and prepare as instructed. After the cupcakes have cooled sufficiently you can whip up the frosting. Cream together the butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth. In a separate bowl mix together the powdered sugar, cocoa, and malted milk powder. Alternately add the dry ingredients and the milk one tablespoon at a time to the butter mixture until it reaches the desired consistency. Pipe the frosting using a 'big star' tip onto the cooled cupcakes and top with a Whopper. Now sit back and watch them all disappear!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lemon Burst Cookies

For the past 7 years I have worked in the customer service field, not that I have an affinity for the general public or anything, but it does pay my bills. Because of the types of jobs I have held over the years I'm forever working on important holidays, like Mother's Day for example. I have not been able to spend a proper Mother's Day with Lori for many years now; this year was no exception. So in order to make up for my "bad daughter" behavior I took a weekday off from my job and planned a posh picnic in a local rose garden for Lori and myself. The menu was a mixture of home-made goodies and some help from Sprouts in the organic produce department. The Italian Chicken Sandwiches I made were courtesy of my favorite baking blog: Brown Eyed Baker (be sure and check her stuff out). I also went a little crazy with the organic produce buying grapes, strawberries, cantaloupe, and blackberries for the occasion. I am never one to turn down the opportunity to make dessert, as you have found out by now. I wanted something that wouldn't compete with all of the varied flavors, and it needed to be something light. I chose a lemon cookie for the finishing touch, my mother's favorite flavor, and a super simple recipe. (Also from the Brown Eyed Baker site) It was the perfect day for a picnic, we found a great old tree to sit under and the wind helped cut through the heat. Our picnic was a smashing success as my mother and grandmother got to enjoy the luscious smell of the roses as we ate lunch and talked all afternoon. The full menu consisted of: Italian Chicken Salad Sandwiches, Grapes, Strawberries, Cantaloupe, Blackberries, Antipasto and Broccoli Salad from Sprouts, Olive and Feta Salad, Lemon Burst Cookies, and Iced Peppermint Tea.

Lemon Burst Cookies

  • 1 box of Lemon Cake Mix (I know....I cheated)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil
  • Zest of 2 Lemons
  • 2 Tbsps. lemon juice
  • Powdered Sugar, for dusting

This recipe was simple and allowed me the adequate amount of time to prepare the rest of my food and pack it safely in my picnic bag. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat as these cookies may stick to the pan. Stir together the cake mix, eggs, and vegetable oil until well combined. Zest the two lemons and you can also use them for the two tablespoons of juice, real lemon juice is always preferred over the bottled stuff. After all of the ingredients are mixed, spoon small amounts onto the cookie sheet and bake for 10 - 11 minutes or until the edges are a light brown. Once they are out of the oven dust them with the powdered sugar while they are still warm and allow them to cool completely on the cookie sheet before you remove them.

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Double Feature

This past weekend I was finally able to "grow-up" in a sense, I hosted my first dinner party. Albeit, it was held in my moving box laden apartment, with all of us eating on our laps in my living room, but whatever works. My friends and I had planned a traditional, pot-luck style Irish feast in celebration of St. Patrick's Day weekend. After researching Irish food I stumbled upon a recipe for Irish Soda Bread, this happens to be on my baking bucket list, so it was added to the menu without question. Let me just say, I have made homemade bread before and this was a whole new experience. It was dense and crumbly, and I was warned in the recipe to not knead it too much, or else it would be tough when baked. I was going to include a picture of the bread, and although it tasted delicious, it was not terribly pretty when it came out of the oven. What was beautiful was my Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting, at least it was the second time I made it. The oven in my rental and I have never been on good terms, it doesn't maintain temperature and takes great pleasure in burning my masterpieces. After attempting to salvage my first cake, which was a burnt mess, I raced to the nearest 24 hour market and bought all the same ingredients for round two. This time I was prepared, I sat in front of the oven with all my windows open and the oven door cracked so I could babysit my cake. It came out beautifully, and the end result was one I could finally be proud of. The dinner party was a huge success with all of us stuffed with great food, and green beer by the end of the night. Now I just need another holiday as an excuse to throw a fabulous dinner party...

Irish Soda Bread

  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened, plus two more tbsp. melted for the crust
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, and be sure the rack is in the upper-middle position for optimal baking. Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt in a large bowl. Now, here comes the messy part, work the softened butter into the flour mixture with your fingers, until it forms coarse crumbs. Add the buttermilk and stir with a fork until it starts to come together. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead about 12 - 14 turns, it will still look 'unfinished' but that is what gives it the rustic Irish charm! Pat it into a round about 6 inches across and 2 inches high, place in a greased parchment-lined baking dish. Be sure and score the top of the loaf with a cross pattern before you bake it. According to Irish legend it allows the fairies to escape the loaf. Bake for approximately 40 - 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Brush the top of the loaf with the melted butter and serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Guinness Cake with Bailey's Cream Cheese Frosting

For the Cake -
  • 1 1/2 cups dark stout beer, such as Guinness
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter
  • 1 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
For the Frosting -
  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 7 tbsp. Bailey's Irish Cream
  • 5 - 6 cups powdered sugar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two cake pans and line them with parchment paper, trust me it will work wonders for the layering. Melt the beer and butter together over medium heat and whisk in the cocoa, ensuring a smooth texture. Allow it to cool to room temperature. Meanwhile, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. In a separate bowl beat the eggs and sour cream together until smooth, in small batches alternately add the flour mixture and the cooled cocoa mixture to the eggs and sour cream. The batter will be very thick and dense, but don't worry, it will make for a very rich cake. Divide it amongst the two cake pans and bake for 30 - 35 minutes. While your cakes bake, in a more trustworthy oven than my own, you can whip up the easy and delectable frosting. Blend the cream cheese, butter, and Bailey's together until smooth and add the powdered sugar one cup at a time. If it still looks too thick for spreading, carefully add a tsp. of milk until it appears more your style. Layer the cakes on top of one another and be sure not to skimp of the frosting in between. You should have enough left to cover the sides and top of the cake as well as have a bit left over for decorations if you desire. I went for a more rustic look and topped mine with green and chocolate sprinkles.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Margarita Cupcakes

I'm willing to admit that my short hiatus from baking/blogging was much longer than expected, and of course completely not my own fault. You see, I'm pretty fond of my electricity and other creature comforts that make my life as a poor post-grad tolerable. For many months it was a constant battle at the grocery store, do I buy food  for a few days or those amazing food-safe colorful 'markers' for decorating? I lived solely off of cheap bagged cereal for a few weeks to earn those markers, too. The holidays brought with them numerous opportunities for baking, and I gladly accepted the welcome invite to destroy every dish and mixing bowl I owned. But nothing I made seemed worthy of my triumphant return to the blogging world. Cue the new year, where I have decided to adopt realistic resolutions for 2014. What better way to start off my blog than the medium that I am best known for, alcohol-infused cupcakes! Considering the unnatural (and unwelcome) presence of snow so late in the year, a spicy Mexican fiesta was in order for my dear friend's birthday, and what better way to top off green chili enchiladas, Spanish rice, and queso than a light and refreshing margarita themed cupcake. These buttermilk cakes are laced with lime zest and a dash of tequila, while the frosting is a buttery concoction of salt, margarita mix, and even more tequila. Just be sure and pace yourself, no one needs to be remembered for making a fool of themselves because they got tipsy off of a cupcake. That would mean I have done my job too well.

Margarita Cupcakes

For the Cupcakes -

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp. tequila, any brand works
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
For the Frosting - 
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. margarita mix
  • 2 tbsp. tequila
  • 2 pinches of salt
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl beat the butter and sugar until fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Mix lime zest, lime juice, vanilla extract, and tequila with the butter mixture. It may look slightly curdled, but have no fear it will come together in the end. In two batches combine the dry mix and buttermilk to the bowl containing the butter mixture. Scrape the sides and perform the final mixing with a rubber spatula aka The End-All-Be-All of kitchen utensils. Scoop the batter into your muffin tin lined with cupcake liners and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Allow the cakes to cool before you top them with the frosting. 

For the frosting, whip the butter until fluffy and add the lime juice, tequila, and salt in small doses. Mix in the powdered sugar until it reaches the desired consistency. Top with more lime zest, sprinkles, or even a light dusting of salt. Variations with the flavor can also be made if you want to have a flavored margarita cupcake!