Monday, April 18, 2011

Cupcake Bake Sale for Team In Training

My mother-in-law is training to run a 1/2 marathon with Team In Training, an organization that supports the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Mike's mom is running to support her sister-in-law, who was recently diagnosed with Leukemia, and her great-uncle who passed away from Leukemia in the last year. Mike's mom held a huge garage sale this past weekend where they received donations from the community. Along with the garage sale, she asked me if I could bake some cupcakes for a bake sale to raise money on that same day. Having a very close friend diagnosed with Leukemia back while we were in college and an uncle diagnosed with Lymphoma, I was happy to do some baking for this amazing foundation.

The garage sale was a huge success as, I heard, so were the cupcakes! If you would like to donate to this wonderful organization please visit Kathy's Team in Training website by clicking on the link. I am so glad that I could help raise some money with my cupcakes!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Wake up with a Coffee Cupcake!

My very good friend Natalie has a daughter, Alyssa, who loves coffee! For Alyssa's 18th birthday I wanted to make her coffee cookies, but instead wound up making a cupcake instead :) (guess you could say it was an awesome mistake). These cupcakes are made with real coffee and they have a really nice and light flavor. I guess you could say they are a little more dense in texture, compared to your average cupcake, but they still retain a lightness when you eat them. When I first made them, I gave a piece to my husband and some of our friends to see if they could figure out the taste and what their reactions would be. At first my husband could't guess the flavor, but once I told him, he immediately found it. Our friend Mark really seemed to enjoy them as he ended up keeping some of the sample pieces for a snack to eat later. When our friend Folmer (a.k.a.) David sampled the piece, he suggested that alone, without frosting, the cupcake would make a good morning breakfast muffin. I gave Kevin a piece with some chocolate ganache and he said it was tasty and really like the fudgy chocolate ganache. Who would have guessed that what was supposed to be a cookie would turn out to be a versatile cupcake.

To add the dessert quality to this cupcake I used the chocolate ganache frosting I had made for my chocolate flour-less cupcake. This actually complimented the cupcake quite well, with the bitterness from the coffee (though, I think it could even use more coffee flavor) and the sweetness of the chocolate. I gave Alyssa these coffee cupcakes with the ganache frosting. Natalie, who cannot eat chocolate suggested that I make a caramel frosting for the next batch I make so she can eat one :). Sounds like I have a new project!

Happy 18th Birthday Alyssa!

Happy Birthday Barrie!

Barrie is an office turtle and she turned 5!

I was asked to make two dozen turtle cupcakes to honor the office pet at the Emmons Company
The request was to make the cupcakes similar to the ones I made for Jack's birthday, but instead of a white cake, I was asked to make a chocolate cake, and since Barrie is a girl, I decided to put little licorice bows on her head.

The cake is made from a mixture of cocoa, flour, butter, baking powder & soda, and milk. For the sand I used crushed graham crackers and for the turtle shells I used a mini cupcake pan.

These cupcakes are so fun to make! Hope Barrie enjoyed her birthday!

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Sunshine In My Kitchen!

Let me begin by letting you know this is not one of my typical dessert blogs. I love to talk about my son and how he inspires me. What is better than having a little bit if that inspiration in my kitchen.

I found this wall decal and I thought it would be great over the stove, where I like to spend my time baking. It is the saying, of this wall art, that brings so much more meaning to my life. Since Shane's passing, the sunshine always reminds me of my baby boy looking down over me. Let me explain: The day before Shane was born, it was overcast and cloudy; I had spent the majority of that day at the doctor's office and hospital because they had to monitor my blood pressure. They had informed me that the baby would probably be early and I prayed that he wouldn't come on that day because it was such an ugly, gloomy day. The next day, the doctor decided to induce me and I was so happy to be in a room that was full of beautiful sunrays. Gloomy days always make me sad and nervous as they are always soo gloomy, and since the idea of labor scared me so much, I just don't think I could mentally handle having a baby on a yucky day. Luckily Shane was born on a beautiful sunny day and he was even more beautiful than I could have ever imagined.

The sunshine has never meant more to me than now. Shane passed away in the middle of the night, but on the day of his memorial service, the sunshined so bright and beautifully, I remember it being one of the nicest days we had had. Shane makes me such a proud mom and he is the inspiration in my life. He inspires me to live for my dreams and creating desserts is all part of these aspirations I have. I've said it before, that with desserts come happiness and with happiness comes laughter. What is a better saying for my kitchen, where I create desserts than "Laughter Sparkles Like Sunshine". Desserts create happiness-> happiness=laughter, and it all sparkles like rays of sunshine, which is always my handsome boy looking over us.

Sunshine, or I like to think of it as: My SunSHANE!

A Chocolate Peanut Butter Gfree Gooey Goodness

We are going over to our friends’ house tonight for dinner and I asked her if I could bring a dessert. She said she voted for the peanut butter banana split cupcake on my poll, but since that poll hasn't closed yet, I thought I would try to make a chocolaty peanut buttery dessert for her anyways. I really enjoy flour-less cake, it is always so rich and moist and fluffy. I know desserts aren't the most health conscious, however, eliminating the flour is just one less thing our bodies have to worry about.

For this recipe I made 2 different types of ganache. I made a peanut butter ganache and a chocolate ganache. Ganache is defined as a cream base mixed with chocolate. For this cupcake I thought I would make a rich filling to ooze from the middle of the cake made out of peanut butter. Because I wanted it to be an oozy filling, I mixed peanut butter and cream with a touch of powdered sugar for sweetness. For the cupcake's topping, I made a chocolate ganache and put that in the refrigerator to solidify. Typically ganache is used in it's liquid fashion for it's melty chocolaty gooeyness (you like that? haha) and often times served warm, but since this is for a dinner at our friends’ house, I wanted it to harden a bit and act as a rich chocolate frosting. I placed both ganaches in the fridge to cool. The chocolate ganache solidified more than the peanut butter, which is exactly what I wanted to achieve.

For the flour-less cake, I used a double boiler to melt down a stick of butter and a half cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Once that was melted down, I added 3 eggs (beaten), sugar, cocoa and vanilla. A flour-less cake batter differs from your typical flour cake, as it’s texture is more “rubbery” than “liquidy”. I filled the cupcake pans about half way and placed them in the oven at 300 for 25 minutes. The cupcakes rose quite a bit, but once they cooled they went down; next time I will add more batter to each cupcake.

After the cupcakes cooled for 10 minutes, I filled each center with the peanut butter ganache. Because flour-less cake is less dense, you can see the cake rise as the filling is being pumped in. I placed these directly in the refrigerator to help cool the cupcakes more.

After the cupcakes cooled completely, I used a#22 frosting tip to frost the top of each cupcake. Next time I will definitely use a bigger tip as it did not create the thickness I wanted and some of the chocolate chips (which didn't melt down entirely) clogged the tip at times (had to use warm water to de-clog).

I sampled the cupcakes and OMG! they were so rich and yummy! These cupcakes are definitely meant to be eaten with a spoon, as the inside is very gooey. Hopefully our friends will enjoy these rich treats tonight! :)