Thursday, March 19, 2009

A trio of cupcakes

My great friend Karen is turning the BIG 3-0 and there is a dinner planned with her family. In honour of her birthday I'm making a trio of cupcakes! (It's such a grand occasion, the fancy British spelling of honor is called for).

Pumpkin Cupcakes: Topped with Cream Cheese Frosting

I've made these before and people love them. Always use freshly grated nutmeg as the recipe calls for and you won't regret the extra step.

Devils Food filled with Raspberry Jam: Topped with Whipped Chocolate Ganache and a mini meringue

This was my first time using this recipe and I probably wont be using it again. I don't have a lot of luck using cake recipes that call for water. These tasted fine but it had a bit of a dense texture and wasn't so chocolate-y.

I used the Wilton method for the filling but the somehow I ended up with not so much filling in my version. It could be that the dense texture threw off the method. I may try the cone method next time.

Chocolate Ganache:
-One bag semisweet chocolate chips (12oz)
-one pint whipping cream

Melt chocolate in a double boiler with chocolate chips, stir often until smooth. Cool uncovered mixture in refrigerator until cool but not firm. Whip mixture with whisk just until fluffy.

Devils Food
Topped with Whipped Chocolate Ganache and chocolate sprinkles(for the kiddies).

I made these on a Thursday night with my friend Jenn (aka Grey's Anatomy viewing partner). I baked and Jenn decorated. We had to take breaks to watch Grey's and worked ferociously during commercial breaks. It was fun and we made a mess.

P.S. I do have photos but they are currently being held hostage in my Mac notebook, I broke the plug to the power supply. Well technically the vacuum cleaner got in a fight with the plug, but I digress.... Photos coming soon!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Thomas Keller Ville

Last Friday I had the luck of not going to work (PTO!) and going to Napa to eat and drink. More eating than drinking. I'm not big on drinking during the day in public. That sounds bad.. doesn't it. Everyone knows that I love food! I spend my days thinking about it, I plan weekends around it.

My perfect day in Napa:

Lunch at Taylor's Automatic Refresher: Must order the sweet potato fries and tomato soup! Skip the fountain sodas, they taste funny.

Visit a few wineries! Must sees:

Domaine Carneros: Sparkling wines made in a french chateau! Great tour and tasting for about $30, with a great guide who loves his job (it shows).

Sterling Vineyards: Go for the gondola ride. Great views of Napa, self guided tour, their wines are ok. Find a coupon online.

Artesa: The ART in Artesa is definitely apparent here. Art and wine!

Napa Outlets: You can find a deal or two at Banana Republic. Nothing super special here, but there is a Barneys Outlet!

Bouchon Bakery: Great place to pick up a snack and items to-go! Must try: TKO (Thomas Keller Oreo in pic below, I'm going to attempt to copy this myself). Also get the french macaroons.

Dinner at Ad-Hoc: A Thomas Keller establishment. It lives up to the hype and at $49 per person you cant beat that for a 4 course dinner made with the freshest ingredients that makes you want to kiss the chef. Must try: the fried chicken. Too bad there is only one set menu per night. But that chicken is legendary!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Red velvet cupcakes

My friend Jenn just recently had a birthday and I really didn't get to celebrate it with her so I told her I would bake her something.

She told me once she never had red velvet cupcakes. I'm not the biggest fan of artificial coloring, but who am I to turn down a birthday request?

I used this recipe I found on All Recipes: Red Velvet Cupcakes . This recipe has more cocoa than most, this also prohibits the red food coloring to be as bright; however I like the cocoa to be more prominent. Otherwise I'm just eating a red cupcake.

As stated above I'm not a big fan of artificial coloring, so I didn't want to go buy food coloring. Luckily, I have some left over red coloring paste from a decorating class I took in October 08. I added about 1/8 tsp of the paste to 1 fluid oz of buttermilk, to make up for the liquid the recipe called for. There's the batter before it goes in the oven. Oompa Loompa....

The traditional frosting for red velvet is cream cheese:

Cream cheese frosting:

  • 8oz cream cheese
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 stick butter softened
  • 2-3 cups confectioners sugar depending on how you like the consistency

    Frosted using a Wilton 1M (large star tip). This is the easiest way to frost cupcakes while still looking decorative.

Happy Birthday Jenn!