Thursday, February 24, 2011

Red Velvet Cupcakes w/ Cream Cheese Frosting

Last week I didn't post. Which wasn't really by choice, but my excuse isn't very good either. I had a first draft due of an appellate brief, which took up a lot of last weekend. This isn't a good excuse because my purpose in starting this blog was to make sure I made time for cooking and baking and last week I just didn't. But instead of beating myself up about it, and boring you with details about shepardizing cases (*yawn*), I decided to make red velvet cupcakes. With cream cheese frosting. So we're good now, right? Friends again? (yeah, I thought so).

These are, in the words of Tom, "stupidly good." And I have to say I agree. They are light, fluffy, and the cake has a depth of flavor (thanks, I think, to using half olive oil, half vegetable oil and because of the buttermilk). And if that couldn't get any better, the frosting is insane. If I hadn't made it myself, I would think there were drugs in it. So give these a shot - I promise, they are worth it.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

2 1/2 cups cake flour, sifted
2 tbsp. cocoa powder, dutch processed
1 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup olive oil
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp. red food coloring
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. white distilled vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl whisk flour, cocoa powder and salt.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat sugar and oils on medium-high with an electric-mixer. After about 2 minutes the oils and sugar should be combined. Add eggs one at a time and mix until fully combined. Add food coloring and vanilla.

3. Reduce the speed to low and add 1/3 of the flour mixture. Then add half of the buttermilk. Add another 1/3 of the flour. And then the rest of the buttermilk. Finish with the remaining flour. Be sure to mix thoroughly after each addition.

4. In a separate small bowl add the baking powder to the vinegar. The mixture will foam. Add the mixture to the batter and mix on medium for about 15 seconds.

5. Divide into 24 paper-lined cups, filling each about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes. A cake tester should come out clean.

6. Cool completely and cover with cream cheese icing (recipe below). For extra cuteness, sprinkle with chopped pecans.

Cream Cheese Frosting
6 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 stick butter, room temperature
2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Cream the butter and cream cheese for about 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add sugar 1/2 cup at a time, mixing completely after each addition.

2. After the sugar is completely incorporated, add the vanilla and mix until combined.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tomato, Beef & Bean Stew

I first tried to make a beef stew a couple of weeks ago and it didn't go well. Before that, if you'd asked me, I would have said screwing up stew was impossible. But take it from me, if you add potatoes way too early (some how forgetting that starch will break down if cooked for too long) you get something closer to mashed potatoes mixed with the insides of a pot pie without the delicious crust.

Anyway, this second attempt is much tastier and sits squarely in the "stew" category texture-wise. As usual, I love to add vinegar at the end right before serving as a way to create depth of flavor. But if that's not your thing, this stew doesn't need it - it's flavorful and hearty on its own, making a great dinner for a cold winter night. And regardless of what the groundhog says, I think we have a few more of those left.

Tomato, Beef & Bean Stew
1.5 lbs of stew beef

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 can crushed tomatoes

3 carrots, sliced

1 can white beans

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the meat, about 5 minutes.

2. Remove meat from pan, reduce heat to medium. Add onions and garlic to pot and cook for about 2 minutes. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil.

3. Add meat back into the pot and also add, tomatoes, carrots, and white beans.

4. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
5. Add salt, pepper, and parsley. Stir and serve.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Kugelhopf Rolls

This recipe is not easy. There are many steps and a lot of waiting around for dough to rise. Which is a little bit frustrating, because *ideally* you have these fresh out of the oven in the morning. So to make that a reality I was "patiently" staring at dough at 11:30 on a Friday night. After an introduction like that you may be wondering why I bothered posting this at all. But you just have to believe me when I say that the taste truly does make it worth it.

The dough is yeasty and buttery and almost has the texture of a popover, but without all the air inside. This must come from letting the mixer do its thing for about 15 minutes (which, at 11pm, I thought might have my neighbor knocking on my door...). So if you have some time, and are up for a bit of a challenge, why not be rewarded with these delicious little guys?

[ps: I just got a flash and clearly haven't really figured out the best way to use it. Thanks for bearing with me :o)]

Kugelhopf Rolls barely adapted from theKitchn

2 tablespoons warm water
1 1/2 teaspoons dry, active yeast
1/3 cup warm whole milk
1 3/4 cup divided
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, softened

2 tablespoons melted butter
1/8 cup granulated sugar

1. Stir together the water and yeast until dissolved. Mix in the milk.

2. Add 3/4 cup of flour until it forms a smooth batter. (I had to add a little extra water at this step).

3. Cover and let sit for at least 20 minutes. It should double in size.

4. In a separate bowl mix eggs, yolk, almond extract. Stir this into the yeast mixture after it has risen fully.

5. In your stand mixer bowl combine 1 cup flour, sugar, and salt. Stir in the eggy-yeast mixture, mixing until it forms a shaggy dough.

6. Fit your mixer with the dough hook and mix on medium-high for 5 minutes.

7. Reduce the speed to medium and add the butter, about 1 tablespoon at a time. Wait until each chunk has incorporated before adding the next; and scrape down the sides as needed.

8. Increase the speed back to medium-high and let it mix for 10 minutes.

9. Turn the dough out into a clean bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 1/2 hours.

10. Place the dough in the fridge over night.

11. The next morning (so glad you're still here!), turn the dough onto a floured working surface. Don't be afraid to use enough flour that it doesn't stick. Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/2 inch thick.

12. Brush the dough with melted butter, leaving a dry perimeter and sprinkle with sugar.

13. Form the dough into a roll starting with one of the shorter ends and gently making your way to the other.

14. Cut the dough into 12 even slices and place in a muffin tin. Cover and let rise for an hour.

15. 15 minutes before baking, heat your oven to 375 F and bake them for 18-25 minutes depending on your oven. They are done when the internal temperature is 200 F.