1st Blogiversary! Lavendar Brownie Cupcakes & Something I can eat right now....

Today marks 1 year from my first blog post, fruit sushi. I made a delicious Asian pasta salad last night (recipe to come), so I must have some serious asian persuasion this time of year. I had big plans to attempt a re-creation of the most delicious banana caramel cake I ate at a restaurant a few months back, however, due to my dietary restrictions until May 11th that deliciousness is going to have to wait. I did attempt a vegan/gluten free version, but they came out with about the same consistency of a gummy bear. Instead my 1 year blogiversary will be celebrated with some Lavendar Brownie cupcakes (for everyone else) and some no-bake almond butter chocolate bars (for me and everyone) inspired by a recipe from a fabulous blogger I met at the bakesale the other weekend. Everything (banana cupcakes aside) turned out great and I feel like my blogiversary recipes are the perfect culmination of my year of experiments......some successes, some failures, but overall a sense of pride that comes with creating something with my hands and the joy of sharing my creations with others.

Lavendar Brownie Cupcakes
recipe from Martha Stewart Cupcakes Book

-3/4C + 2T all purpose flour
-1/2t baking powder
-1/2t salt
-10-1/2T butter
-3-1/2oz unsweetened chocolate
-1-1/3C sugar
-2 large eggs (room temperature)
-1t vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350°. Line 24 standard muffin tins with paper liners (I could have filled mine a little less, but I only got 15 cupcakes from this recipe).
2. Melt butter and chocolate in double boiler. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
3. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
4. On medium speed beat together chocolate and sugar. Beat in eggs one at a time. Beat in Vanilla.
5. Reduce speed to low and slowly add in flour until just combined.
6. Spoon batter into muffin tins, fill a little over half way. Bake about 18-20 minutes, rotating half way through. I took them out when a toothpick came out almost clean. They continue to cook as they cool and I did not want them to be dry. Allow to completely cool before spooning on the icing.

Lavendar Icing (This recipe made about double what I needed)
-1/3C whole milk
-1/2t dried lavendar
-3C confectioner's sugar
-Violet food coloring (or equal parts blue and pink)

1. Bring milk and lavendar just to a boil in a small sauce pan. Remove from heat, cover and let steep for 5 minutes.
2. Strain milk/lavendar mixture into a medium bowl. Be sure to remove all of the dried lavendar bits. By hand, mix in 3 cups of confectioner's sugar. Slowly add in food coloring. I ended up using 4 drops of blue and 4 drops of pink.
3. Immediately spoon onto cupcakes and smooth with a knife.

Crystallized Flowers
-Edible flowers
-2t meringue powder
-2T water
-Superfine sugar

1. Remove stems from flowers
2. Whisk together meringue powder and water
3. Brush meringue mixture onto flowers one at a time and sprinkle with sugar. Place on a tray or wire rack and allow to dry completely.

No Bake Almond Butter Chocolate Bars
recipe adapted from Bridezillabakes

-1C granola
-1C almond butter
-1C earth balance margerine (or butter)
-3C powdered sugar
-12oz dark chocolate

1. Butter a 9x13 pan and set aside. Mix together first 4 ingredients (slowly adding powdered sugar until you reach the right consistency add more if necessary, I added a bit too much and they turned out crumbly). Spread evenly into pan.
2. Melt chocolate in double boiler and spread over bars. Allow to set before cutting.

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Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

I originally decided to make these cupcakes for the bakesale because they do not need frosting and since they needed to be packaged individually I figured it would save me quite a bit of time not worrying about smudging frosting, but per usual, my sweet tooth got the better of me. I could not resist making these into my own version of Mrs Field's cookie cupcakes. I you have ever had one, then you know why I had to proceed with that direction. If you have not had one, please immediately make these or go out to the nearest Mrs. Field's at once and buy one. Because this is not simply taking cookie dough and baking it in a cupcake tin they are not quite as dense as my original inspiration, but that makes them a perfect pair with the frosting. They are sort of a cakey cookie, and I am sorry, but it would just be in poor taste to serve cake without frosting. In order to keep them a little more tidy for packaging purposes, after they came out of the oven I used the rounded side of a melon baller to smush in a 1/2" well to fill with frosting. After filling the indentation with frosting I continued to swirl it up just a smidge to make them super cute. Since these are for a bake sale I also found the cutest ribbon to finish off the packages that says 'Thank You' to our oh so generous customers. I am still a few weeks away from being able to eat anything like this, but my taste testers were thoroughly impressed, so this definitely goes on the 'make again' list. I just don't know if I will ever get to that list with so many new things I want to try!

Recipe Adapted from Martha Stewart
Cupcake Ingredients (makes 24 cupcakes):
-1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour
-3/4 teaspoon baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 Cup unsalted butter, room temperature
-3/4 Cup sugar
-3/4 Cup light brown sugar
-3 eggs
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
-1/2 Cup milk (I used unflavored light soy milk, but non-fat cow's milk would work as well)
-8 oz semi-sweet chocolate chunks

1. Preheat oven to 375°. Line a standard size muffin tin with cupcake liners.
2. Combine flour, baking powder, & salt. Set aside.
3. At medium-high speed cream together butter and both sugars until pale and fluffy- about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time until combined. Add in vanilla.
4.  Reduce speed to low and alternate adding flour mixture and milk in at least two batches. Stir in chocolate chunks by hand.
5. This is where I halt the process and refrigerate the dough for at least 24 hours, but you could also bake them immediately.
6. Fill each cup with 1/4 Cup batter. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the tins to wire racks and allow the cupcakes to cool completely in the tins.
7. After the cupcakes have been out of the oven 10 minutes, use your melon baller to push into the tops of the cupcakes to create a 1/2" 'frosting well'.
8. After cupcakes are cooled completely, use a pastry bag to fill/frost the cupcakes.

Dark Chocolate Frostng Ingredients:
- 16 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
-6 Tablespoons Cocoa powder
-6 Tablespoons boiling water
-3 Sticks unsalted butter, just at room temperature (I have had a lot of trouble with my frostings if the butter is too warm)
-1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
-1/4 teaspoon salt

1. Melt semisweet chocolate in a double boiler, or glass bowl over a simmering pot of water. Be sure not to let the water boil or touch the bottom of the bowl. Continuously stir over the heat until chocolate is just about smooth. Then remove from heat and stir until smooth. Set this off to the side, stirring occassionaly until completely cooled, about 30 minutes.
2. Stir together the Cocoa powder with boiling water until smooth, set aside.
3. In a mixer on medium-high speed combine butter, sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
4. On low speed mix in melted chocolate until combined. Beat in cocoa mixture. Scrape down the sides as needed until fully incorporated.

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National Food Blogger Bake Sale: Saturday, April 17, 2010

Mark your calendars for April 17th 2010! This is the big day! We are kicking off the Share Our Strength fundraising season with the first annual National Food Bloggers Bake Sale!!

Maris of In Good Taste is leading the effort for Chicago. It's going to be a great event, Thanks Maris!

Who: Some of Chicago's finest food blogs and bakeries will be there, including Kudos Kookies  & Foiled Cupcakes.

What: Remember your childhood bake sales? This one will be even better! Food bloggers and baking aficionados are teaming up to give readers the opportunity to sample some of their favorite baked goods and treats. Proceeds from the sale benefit Share Our Strength.

When: Saturday, April 17 from 12pm - 3pm (CST)

Where: Smash Cake Bakery, 2961 N. Lincoln Ave. Chicago IL 60657 (at Wellington) Get a sneak peek at its BRAND NEW location!

Why: Food bloggers from across the country will unite to support the Share Our Strength’s efforts to end childhood hunger in America by holding bake sales in their states. Proceeds from the sale will support the 17 million children (almost one in four) who face hunger in America. More information on SOS can be found at www.strength.org.

I plan to make some Chocolate Chip cookie cupcakes with dark chocolate frosting. if you have ever had the Mrs Field's cookie cupcakes you are going to want to check these out! I'll post the recipe once I actually make them later in the week.