Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Strawberry Whoopie Pies

Stawberries have such a fun, summery vibe that I thought it would be cute to add little gingham printed fondant hearts on top of each little pie.

                                            Fondant hearts painted in gingham print with food coloring

This recipe is adapted from Baked's Strawberry Whoopie Pie recipe, which is delicious. I wanted my version to be bright pink and girly to pay homage to the strawberry cake mix cakes I loved so dearly as a kid.

For the Strawberry Whoopie Pies (makes about 20 mini whoopie pie sandwiches)
Adapted from Baked's Strawberry Whoopie Pie recipe
1 1/2 cups AP Flour
2 tbsp dehydrated strawberries (ground into fine powder)
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup fresh strawberry puree
2 large egg whites

Sift flour, powdered strawberry, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl, and set aside.

Put sugar and oil in a large bowl and mix well, using a whisk to break up any lumps in sugar. Whisk in strawberry puree and sour cream until combined, then whisk in egg whites, one at a time, just until combined. Fold in flour mixture in two parts, being careful not to overwork the batter. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°. Using a pastry bag, pipe 1.5 inch diameter circles, spacing about 2 inches apart. Working in batches, bake until cookies are set and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean, 8-10 minutes (longer if you do large pies). Remove cookies from oven; cool completely.
TIP: The batter is fairly thick, so you may want to wet your index finger and smooth tops of batter before baking to prevent bumpy cookie tops.

For the cream cheese strawberry filling:
2 sticks unsalted butter
1/2 block cream cheese
2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or extract
1/2 cup diced strawberries (chop into fine pieces using food processor)
2-3 drops Americolor Deep Pink food coloring

Whip butter in stand mixer fitted with battle attachment. Add cream cheese and then slowly add confectioner's sugar. If mixture is too thick, add a splash of milk to make it easier to mix. Add vanilla and food coloring- mix well. Add in strawberries last and mix just until combined.

To assemble:

Pipe filling on one side of each cookie to create "sandwiches." Decorate as desired.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Shirley Temple Cupcakes

This is my second version of a Shirley Temple Cupcake (the first version was not documented on Pixie Crust). I wanted to make another version because i wasn't completely satisfied with the first recipe.

This version is a white cake with a hint of lime filled with pomegranate curd and topped with Shirley Temple flavored swiss meringue buttercream. In case you didn't know (as I didn't for a very long time) grenadine actually has a pomegranate base, not cherry.

For the Cupcakes:
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
2 tsp lime zest
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp lemon juice
6 large egg whites
3 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract or paste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees* (I baked my cupcakes at 325 degrees because my oven gets crazy hot, but just as a tip, I generally find that baking cakes at slightly under 350 degrees makes for better results)

Cream together the sugar and butter, beating with paddle attachment for at least 3-4 minutes.

In the meantime, sift the cake flour with the baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Add in the vanilla, zests, and juice.

Combine sour cream, water, and egg whites in bowl and lightly whisk.

Add in the dry ingredients to the butter/sugar in 3 parts, alternating with the sour cream and egg white mixture. Mix after each addition, but do not over mix. Scrape the sides of the mixing bowl and bottom to be sure that the sugar and butter is all incorporated.

Divide batter evenly into cupcake liners and bake in oven for 20-25 minutes, alternating halfway through. The cupcakes are done when they spring back to the touch.

PS: I added pink food coloring to my cake batter, hence you may notice the cupcakes are not "white" like a true white cake. I wasn't that happy with the color after they baked, so I recommend not adding any additional coloring to the cake.

For the Pomegranate curd
1 1/2 cups POM pomegranate juice
Juice from 3 limes
1 1/2 Tsp lime zest
1 1/4 cups sugar
7 egg yolks
1/2 stick up butter, cut into pieces
5 drops red or dark pink food coloring

Combine pomegranate juice, lime juice and zest, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium sauce pan set over low-medium heat. Continually whisk and gradually increase heat to medium. Cook until mixture has thickened enough to coat back of a spoon. Turn heat off. Add butter and stir until fully melted. Add food coloring. Pour mixture through fine mesh sieve and place plastic wrap directly on top of the curd to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool for at least 2 hours before use. Mixture will thicken more as it chills.

NOTE: The curd will turn brown without food coloring due to the color of the POM juice and how its effected by being cooked with egg yolk, so the coloring is purely for aesthetics.

For the Shirley Temple Swiss Meringue Buttercream:

4 egg whites
2/3 cups sugar
3 sticks butter, unsalted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup grenadine (you may need to add more to taste- I kept adding until it tasted like a Shirley Temple)
3 tbsp sprite
1 tsp lime zest
4-5 drops Americolor Deep Pink food coloring

Combine egg whites and sugar in a heat proof mixing bowl and place over saucepan of simmering water. Continually whisk until sugar is dissolved and mixture reaches 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Place mixing bowl on a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and continually whisk until mixture is thick and fully cooled. Add butter, piece by piece, mixing well after each addition. Switch to a paddle attachment and beat for another 2-3 minutes. Add grenadine, sprite and lime zest.

To assemble:
Core each cupcake using a small paring knife. Use a pastry bag to pipe curd inside cupcake, or use a small spoon. Once each cupcake is filled, pipe frosting on the top of each and place a maraschino cherry on top (be sure to pat them down on a paper towel before use so they don't drip juice on the frosting).

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Passion Fruit Macarons & Blackberry Macarons

I bought two items this past week that I'm so in love with...

1. A Silpat
2. Passion Fruit Puree

I go nuts for passion fruit desserts- passion fruit just gives such a nice tangy, tropical tone to creamy deserts.

As for the siplats, I love not having to cut parchment paper to fit my baking sheets (yay!) Plus I feel kind of French and legit using one.

I generally really enjoy making macarons filled with ganache or buttercream, but this time around, I thought it would be nice to make some with fruit based fillings. The blackberry french macarons are filled with a really easy to make homemade blackberry jam and the passion fruit french macarons are filled with a passion fruit curd.

For the Macaron Shells (makes about 35 cookie shells)
3/4 cup almond flour
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 egg whites
1 pinch cream of tartar
a few drops of food coloring

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
Sift almond flour and confectioner's sugar 2 times. Set aside. Whisk egg whites on low-medium until foamy. Add a SMALL pinch of cream of tartar. Whisk on medium-high until whites are whipped and have soft peaks. Slowly add in 1/4 cup sugar and food coloring, continuously whisking until whites form stiff peaks. TIP: Whites should form a peak on the whisk attachment, but should not be whisked to the point that they are too stiff to fall off the whisk when tapped on the mixing bowl. Sift dry ingredients over egg whites in three parts- do not stir, but fold gently with a rubber spatula into egg whites. Continue folding batter until it "ribbons" off rubber spatula.

Scoop batter into a 14-16 inch pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip. Pipe circles onto parchment paper lined baking sheets (or use silpat).

After piping, hit baking sheet on the counter a few times to remove air bubbles. Allow cookies to sit for 15-30 minutes before baking so that they form a protective "skin." This step also helps to avoid cracking.

As I often put out as a disclaimer, my oven is old and gets really, really hot. I baked these macarons at 275 degrees and had a few crack. Generally, I start baking at around 250, or even a little lower. After they appear to be set and a foot begins forming, I increase the oven temperature to around 275 degrees. Bake about 15-20 minutes (depending on how hot your oven is), until you can lightly touch the cookie and it doesn't slide (the foot is stiff and baked through).

Allow shells to fully cool before filling. For best taste, allow macarons to meld with filling at least overnight and preferably 1-2 days.

For the Passion Fruit Curd (recipe from Martha Stewart)

Makes 2 cups

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened passion-fruit puree
6 large egg yolks
1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces


Combine sugar, passion-fruit puree, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan, and place over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until thick enough to coat back of spoon, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter, piece by piece, until melted. Cool, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed (will keep in fridge up to 3 days).

For the Blackberry Jam:

-8 oz fresh blackberries
-2/3 cup granulated sugar
-1 tsp grand marnier (optional)
-1 tsp orange zest
-1 tsp orange fresh orange juice
-splash of lemon or lime juice

Puree blackberries in blender and strain mixture with sieve. Combine blackberry puree with all other ingredients in small saucepan and place over medium heat. Bring to a boil, skimming any foam off of the top that surfaces. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Mixture will thicken as it cools.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Pudding filled Mexican Chocolate Cupcakes

Happy Seis de Mayo!
This year, it was a very tough decision on what to make for Cinco de mayo, but I decided on Mexican chocolate cupcakes with a Mexican chocolate pudding center. I tossed around a few other flavor ideas that I think I will ultimately save for Dia de Los Muertos (can’t wait to use my sugar skull molds!)
These cupcakes are moist chocolate cake filled with a very simple to make Mexican pudding and topped with Mexican chocolate swiss meringue buttercream.

For the Cupcakes (Yields 24 cupcakes):

2 1/4 cups sifted cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
3 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
1 cup boiling water

Sift the flour and set aside. Whip the butter in an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment until creamy. Add the granulated sugar and then the brown sugar to the butter and mix for 2-3 minutes. Add in the eggs one at a time. Continue mixing until light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla extract and melted baking chocolate. Mix in the baking soda last.

Add the flour in batches, alternating with sour cream. Mix on medium until well combined- do not over mix!

Lastly, remove the bowl from the mixer stand. Add in the boiling water and hand stir until combined.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until cake springs back to the touch and/or an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

For the Mexican Chocolate Pudding Filling (adapted from Epicurious):
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
5 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp cinnamon (or more to taste)
2 cups vanilla rice milk
2 cups whole milk
3 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Whisk together brown sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a heavy medium saucepan, then whisk in milk. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking often. Then boil, whisking for about 1 minute. Remove from heat and whisk in butter and vanilla. Chill in a bowl, surface covered with a piece of buttered wax paper, until cold, at least 1 1/2 hours.
NOTE: Pudding may develop a skin while chilling in fridge. If so, you can simply scrape it off before using to fill cupcakes.

For the Mexican chocolate swiss meringue buttercream:
4 egg whites (Large or Extra Large eggs)
3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
Chocolate Ganache flavoring
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate
2 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
½ cup heavy cream
1 tbsp unsalted butter

Make the ganache. Heat ½ cup whipping cream in small sauce pan until sides are bubbly. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate, whisking to hasten the melting process. Once all of the chocolate is fully melted, add 1 tbsp butter and whisk until combined. Put bowl in fridge (or freezer if you’re short on time) to cool.

Make the swiss meringue buttercream. Combine egg whites and sugar in a heat safe mixing bowl. Place mixing bowl inside a saucepan filled with boiling/simmering water. Whisk together over heat until sugar fully dissolves and mixture measure 160 degrees on a candy thermometer. Beat egg whites and sugar with mixer fitted with whisk attachment until mixture has a thick, meringue-like texture and is fully cooled. Add the butter in pieces, mixing well after each addition. Once butter is all added and mixed, switch to paddle attachment and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add the vanilla and chocolate ganache and mix until fully combined.

To assemble the cupcakes:
Core each cupcake using a paring knife. If cake is crumbly, put cupcakes in the freezer for about 15 minutes so they’re easier to core. After all of the cupcakes are cored, pipe pudding into each cupcake and frost with swiss meringue buttercream as desired.