Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fancy Hostess Cupcakes (GF)

As much as I might enjoy baking cupcakes that strive towards elegance in flavor and style, I also enjoy certain baked goods that some may categorize as "trashy" junk food.

While I've never been much of a Twinkie girl, Hostess makes more than one snack cake I adore-
Second place is taken by the always beautiful hot pink coconut-coated SnoBall and first place is (what else) the original chocolate Hostess cupcake.

These cupcakes are a bit of an homage to the original, except are gluten free, sans lard, and imbued with some fanciness. The cake is adapted from Martha Stewart's One Bowl Chocolate Cupcake recipe and it is without a doubt my new go-to gluten free chocolate cake recipe.

For the One Bowl Chocolate Cupcakes (makes 20-24)

1/2 cup, plus 2 tbsp white rice flour
1/2 cup potato starch
2 tbsp sorghum flour
1/4 cup almond meal
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup warm water
3/4 cup buttermilk
3 coconut oil or canola oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

PS: If you're not Gluten Free, replace the flours and starches with 1 1/2 cups AP flour

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with liners. Set aside.

Place flours, starch, almond meal, and cocoa powder in food processor and whirl until fully combined. Place in large bowl. Add sugar, salt, eggs, water, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Stir with large spoon until fully combined, scraping the sides of bowl as you mix.

Fill each cupcake liner about 2/3 way full. Bake at 325 degrees until cupcakes spring back to the touch (about 20 minutes).

For the Chocolate Glaze:

2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tbsp corn syrup
4 oz bittersweet or dark chocolate, finely chopped

Heat cream and corn syrup in small sauce pan over low-medium heat until sides are bubbly. Add chocolate and stir or whisk continually until chocolate is fully melted and incorporated. Use glaze immediately.

For the Cream Filling:

1 1/2 cups chilled heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp sugar

Add whipping cream to bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Mix on medium-high until mixture starts to thicken. Slowly add sugar and vanilla. Continue to mix until thick whipped cream forms.

For the Strawberry Sauce:

1 cup fresh strawberries, chopped
1 tsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
3 tbsp sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and place over low-medium heat. Continue heating covered for about five minutes. Uncover, stir, and cook an additional 1-2 minutes. Mixture should be thick and berries should have released juices. Allow strawberry sauce to cool.

To Assemble:

Once cupcakes have cooled, cut out the center of each one using a paring knife. Fill each cupcake with a teaspoon of strawberry sauce and top with a piping of cream filling. Continue until all cupcakes are filled. Dip each cupcake into chocolate glaze, holding over bowl until excess has dripped off. Once cupcakes are somewhat dry (place in fridge for about 30 minutes or freezer for 10 minutes), use a thick freezer bag or pastry bag filled with chocolate to pipe swirls on top of the cupcakes.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting (GF)

As much as the red velvet cake fad annoys me at times, I do enjoy a well made moist and tangy red velvet cupcake. Now, red velvet cheesecake, pancakes, yogurt, and body wash...that's another story. There are only so many nuances a red velvet cake has that another cake topped with cream cheese frosting doesn't have...right?

I'm continuing the Valentine's Day celebration with a gluten free red velvet cupcake recipe. They are moist, just the right amount of chocolate, and are topped with a vanilla bean cream cheese frosting.

A small note about these cupcakes is that I used dutch processed cocoa powder, not unsweetened cocoa powder, which is what I would recommend. The color of my cake came out a deep red, rather than a brighter red because of this, which I knew beforehand, but I didn't want to make a trip to buy a different type of cocoa. In case you're wondering, major grocery stores sell unsweetened cocoa powder, so pretty much any kind you find there should work.

For the Red Velvet Cupcakes (GF) Makes 20-24 cupcakes

1 cup superfine sweet rice flour
3/4 cup, plus 2 tbsp potato starch
1/4 cup, plus 1 tbsp sorghum flour
1/3 cup sifted almond flour
2 1/2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup canola oil
3 eggs
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 bottle liquid red food coloring, or several tbsp red gel food coloring

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin tins with liners.

Combine all of flours and starches, the baking soda, salt, and xanthan gum. Set aside. Add oil, sugar, and eggs to bowl of stand mixer and beat with paddle attachment until creamed. Add vanilla. Combine cocoa powder and red food coloring so that it forms a paste. Add to mixture. Combine vinegar and baking soda in a small bowl. Mix together. Add immediately to cake batter and mix until combined.

Divide batter evenly among liners and bake at 325 degrees for 18-22 minutes.

For the Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting:

1 16-oz package cream cheese, room temperature
2 sticks butter, unsalted
1 vanilla bean
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat cream cheese and butter together using a stand mixer. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add. Add 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar and mix until fully combined.

Once cupcakes are cooled, frost and decorate as desired.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Breakfast at Tiffany's Cake

This Christmas, Mr. Pixie Crust bought me my first blue box. He got me a delicate sterling silver and aquamarine necklace from Tiffany & Co. I'm not really one to get super excited about jewelry just because it's from Tiffany's, or to be into a brand because it's fancy or has certain social meaning (unless we're talking L.A.M.B by Gwen Stefani- that's my one weakness). I must say, though, I was pretty excited to see the little blue box under our Christmas tree that morning.

One thing I love about Tiffany & Co is the history of it. Is Breakfast at Tiffany's not one of the sweetest, coolest romantic comedies ever? 52 years after it was released and Audrey Hepburn is still a major fashion and beauty icon. Gap certainly had me sold on its black skinny pants a couple years back simply because images and footage from "Funny Face" starring Audrey Hepburn was used in the ads. Did I mention that it's also my goal is to re-decorate my apartment just like Holly Golightly's- complete with the bathtub sofa?

Believe it or not, the first time I saw Breakfast at Tiffany's was with Mr. Pixie Crust a couple of years ago. I think I find it to be an even more romantic movie because I shared it with him the first time and it makes me sentimental.

In the spirit of Valentine's Day and all things vintage and cool, I've created this Breakfast at Tiffany's cake. The flavor of the cake is Caramel Frappuccino, recreated from these cupcakes in cake and gluten free form.

For the Coffee Cake:
Non-Gluten Free readers may sub the rice flour, sorghum flour, and starches for 1 3/4 cups cake flour. Do not add xanthan gum.

*Makes four 7-inch round layer cakes

2/3 cup superfine sweet white rice flour
1/4 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup, plus 1 1/2 tbsp potato starch
1/4 cup corn starch
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tbsp instant coffee (I used two envelopes of Starbucks Via Coffee)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1 cup milk (you may also use another non-dairy milk)
3 tbsp unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 cups granulated sugar

Butter and flour pans and line bottoms with circles of parchment paper. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 330 degrees. Sift flours, starches, baking powder, and salt together. Set aside.

Using a stand mixer, beat eggs until foamy. In the meantime, heat milk and butter together on stovetop until milk is hot and butter is melted. Turn off stove.

Add sugar to eggs and continue beating for 5-6 minutes until batter becomes creamy and fluffy. Add vanilla extract.

Add milk and melted butter and beat until combined. Add flour mixture 1/4 cup at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally. Once batter is fully combined, pour equal amounts into each pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 330 degrees. Insert a toothpick and gently press the tops of the cakes to check if done.

Allow cakes to cool in pans for about 15 minutes.

Please refer to the Caramel Frappuccino cupcakes recipe for mousse, swiss meringue buttercream and caramel recipes.

To assemble the cake:

Place the baked cake layers in the freezer for about 30 minutes. Place one layer on a cake board right side up. Spread a thick layer of cooled caramel on top of the cake. Next, spread a layer of mousse on top of the caramel. Place a second cake layer on top of the first layer and repeat until all layers are assembled. Spread top layer with a thin layer of caramel.

Place assembled cake in freezer for 30 minutes or fridge for one hour. Once cake is chilled, apply a thin layer of swiss meringue buttercream to the cake to absorb crumbs. Place cake in the freezer for another 15-20 minutes. Apply final layer of buttercream. Decorate as desired.

For the Audrey Hepburn Fondant Cake Topper:

I created the top of the cake by finding a pop art image of Audrey Hepburn online and tracing over it with a toothpick onto a round 7" inch of white fondant. With the faint outlines of the drawing leftover on the fondant, I used an edible food pen to draw the details in with color.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Raspberry Champagne Cupcakes (GF)

This recipe incorporates two of my biggest loves:


One of the most fun parts of baking these cupcakes is enjoying the leftover champagne. :)

This recipe is for a moist champagne cake filled with raspberry curd and topped with a champagne french buttercream.

These cupcakes would be great for Valentine's Day, a wedding, or a bridal shower. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

For the Champagne Cupcakes Makes 24 cupcakes:

1 cup superfine sweet rice flour
1 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sifted almond flour
1/4 cup, plus 1.5 tbsp sorghum flour
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 stick butter, unsalted
1/3 cup canola oil
6 egg whites
1 cup freshly opened champagne
Seeds from one vanilla bean

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees and line two 12-cup muffin pans with cupcake liners.
Combine all of the flours, starches, salt, xanthan gum, and baking soda in a large bowl. Mix together well and set aside. Using a stand mixer, ceam together butter and oil. Add sugar mix for a couple of minutes until fluffy. Add egg whites and mix for another two minutes. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean and add to mixture, mix. Add 2/3 of the dry ingredients and mix until almost incorporated. Add champagne and remaining dry ingredients. Mix until fully combined, scraping sides of bowl.

Divide batter evenly between cupcake liners and bake for about 20 minutes, until cupcakes spring back to the touch.

For the Raspberry Curd:

1 cup fresh raspberry puree
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp unsalted butter

Combine raspberry puree, lemon juice, egg yolks, and 1/3 cup sugar in a small saucepan. Place heat on medium and whisk mixture constantly until thickened. Turn off from heat and add butter. Stir until smooth and combined. Pour mixture through sieve and place in fridge to cool.

For the Champagne Simple Syrup (optional)

1/2 cup champagne
1/2 cup sugar

Combine champagne and sugar in a small saucepan and heat until sugar is fully dissolved. Place in fridge to cool.

For the Champagne French Buttercream:

3 egg yolks
1 whole egg
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup champagne
4 sticks butter, unsalted
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place egg yolks and egg in bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Mix on medium high. Place sugar and champagne in small sauce pan, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves, and heat until mixture reaches 240 degrees on a candy thermometer. Once heat is reached, pour hot syrup into egg mixture as mixer is running. Continue mixing with whisk attachment until mixture is thick and fully cooled. Add butter piece by piece until fully combined. Switch to paddle attachment, add vanilla, and mix for another 2-3 minutes.

To assemble:

Once cupcakes have fully cooled, cut out the center of each one using a small paring knife. Using a pastry brush, brush the tops of each cupcake with champagne simple syrup. Next, pipe raspberry curd into the center of each cupcake.

Decorate as desired.

For the White Chocolate Flowers:

These cupcakes were inspired by Cupcakes Couture's Mimosa cupcake. I love the pretty, yet slightly deconstructed and modern look of their chocolate flower cupcake designs.

To make each petal, I melted Wilton pink candy melts and piped petal shapes onto a parchment paper lined rolling pin. Before the chocolate dried, I used my finger to thin out and shape each petal.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Strawberry Mini-Baked Donuts

One of my favorite things about Valentine's Day is the excuse for me to drench the apartment, the office, and my baked goods in pink.  To start the holiday right, I'm sharing a recipe for strawberry mini-baked donuts that will capture any girly girl (or boy's) heart.

For the Mini Strawberry Baked Donuts (Makes about 30 mini donuts)

1/2 cup potato starch
1/2 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup sweet white rice flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup strawberry milk powder (I used Nesquik)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
¼ cup canola oil
1 egg

*If you would like a bright pink color to your donuts, feel free to add a couple of drops of pink food coloring to your batter

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees and spray donut pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add egg, buttermilk, canola oil, and vanilla extract.  Whisk by hand or mixer.  Scoop batter into large pastry bag fitted with a medium round tip or into a freezer bag with the corner cut.  Pipe batter into donut cavity until about 1/2 way full.   Bake donuts for 7-9 minutes, until they spring back to the touch.

Allow donuts to cool in pan for 5 minutes and then remove and place on parchment paper or cooling rack.  Re-fill pan and bake next batch.

For the Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 drops pink food coloring 
2 tsp strawberry extract
1 1/2 tbsp milk

Line counters with parchment paper.  Place powdered sugar in a bowl.  Add strawberry extract, milk, and food coloring.  Stir vigorously until sugar is fully dissolved.  

Dip each donut in glaze, allowing excess to drip off before setting down on parchment paper.  Decorate as desired.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Homemade Fruit and Nut Bars (V, GF)

Today's recipe is so healthy, it may downright shock you. I'm not blogging about a Paula Deen-esque granola bar filled with yogurt chips, peanut butter, brown sugar and butter.

NOPE. Absolutely no added butter, oil, or sugar to be found here.

These, my lovely readers, are homemade fruit, nut, and oat bars containing nothing but dried fruit, nuts, grains, and a bit of unsweetened chocolate. You see, I believe in purity with certain things- dessert should be dessert- use butter, use shortening, use sugar. Please, the more the better. Dessert is meant to be indulged in on special occasions or, if you're like me, all of the time in moderation. It is not meant to be a meal, or to provide any sort of nutrition.

The same is true for health food, only inverted. I don't believe in unhealthy granola bars, high calorie muffins (except maybe the pumpkin cream cheese one from Starbucks?), or sugary yogurt parfaits. I simply do not see the point in pretending to be healthy, while eating something that contains the same amount of saturated fat and/or refined sugar as a big hunk of cake. I would much rather just have the cake!

Anyway, I'm done with my rant.
The reason I've decided to make these bars on Pixie Crust is because I've fallen in love with Kind Bars and Lara Bars. Since I've gone gluten free, I've eaten one pretty much every day. The best part? They're gluten free and vegan, so pretty much everyone can eat them. Plus, they're made only of natural, raw ingredients like dried fruit and nuts.

I really like breakfast foods that I can eat on the go because despite the fact that I love baking, I'm not necessarily inclined towards a baker's schedule. I typically hit my alarm until I have only 15-20 minutes to get out of the door. I grab a bar and a piece of fruit and I'm out ready to face the mean freeways of Los Angeles.

Mr. Pixie Crust and I are also on a bit of a health kick now that it's the New Year. Let's just say that we've both packed on a few newlywed pounds. I used to live a lifestyle of eating sad frozen diet dinners every weeknight and going to the gym a few days a week (mainly out of boredom), but now I'm 1000% happier and a bit plumper for the wear.

Don't worry, I'll continue to post desserts 95% of the time, I just figured a break might be in order now that the overindulging of the holiday season has passed.

Homemade Fruit and Nut Bars (Makes 8 large bars)

½ cup flax seed meal (I used Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup quick cook oats (I used Bob's Red Mill GF Oats)
1/2 cup almond meal
1 cup dried cherries
1 cup chopped pistachios (roasted, unsalted)
Pinch of salt
3 tbsp cacao nibs
1/2 cup water + approx. 1-2 tbsp
1 tsp pure vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Spray an 8x8 pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.

Place cherries in a mini-chopper or food processor and pulse until chopped.

Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add water and knead or stir until mixture is pliable and forms a ball.

Press mixture firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. Cut into squares with a sharp knife or pizza cutter before placing in the oven.

Bake for 20-22 minutes.


Nutritional Stats:
230 Calories
11g Protein
8g Fiber

You can give them cute packaging, if you're so inclined:

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Mini Oreo Cheesecakes

Happy New Years!

To ring in 2012, why not make these delightful mini Oreo cheesecakes?  They are simple to make and are super tasty.  In fact, since one of my resolutions is to live a healthier lifestyle, I've been avoiding the extras in the fridge today that have been tempting me.   

I'm the proud owner of a new mini-cheesecake pan and I was determined to use it straight away.  This recipe is perfectly portioned to make 12-mini cheesecakes, so if you don't have a pan, you may use mini or regular sized cupcake liners and pans, but the recipe will likely make fewer regular cupcake-sized cheesecakes (maybe 9 or 10) and more mini cupcakes-sized cupcakes.

To make the cheesecakes more festive for New Years, I topped each with whipped cream and various edible sparkly decorations (a fondant sparkly ball on some, metallic dragees on others).

For the Mini-Oreo Cheesecakes:  Adapted from Chicago Metallic Mini-Cheesecake Pan box recipe
Makes 12 mini cheesecakes
1 8-oz block cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 egg
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup finely crushed oreo cookies

3/4 cup finely crushed Oreo cookies (I used Glutino brand gluten free sandwich cookies- terrible name, good cookies)
1/4 stick butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Spray or butter mini cheesecake pan.  Place oreos in food processor and crush until fine. Combine Oreos and melted butter in a bowl.  Place about a tablespoon of oreo crust into each cup and press down into pan slots until even and flat.  

Blend cream cheese, egg, vanilla extract and sugar together until fully combined.  Fold in crushed Oreo cookies.  Distribute batter evenly among each cheesecake pan slot.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 14 minutes.  Allow to cool in pan for about 30 minutes and refrigerate until ready to serve.

NOTE:  I crushed my Oreos a little too fine, which gave my cheesecake a more overall chocolate look.  I also made extra crust and put a little too much in each cheesecake cup.  The recipe provided is for less crust to allow for more filling: crust ratio.