Tag Archives: buttercream

Chocolate Macarons with Peanut Butter Cream Cheese Buttercream

Chocolate Macarons with Peanutbutter Creamcheese Buttercream

I’ve tried to remember the first time I saw a macaron, but honestly, I can’t.  It surely wasn’t until I started writing here, more and more frequently crossing paths with amazing people who bake amazing desserts at home with little or no formal training.  I’d not heard of Pierre Herme, either.  No, I was caught up in the the world of savory dishes with only an occasional dessert made for a special occasion coming from my kitchen rather than the circular, often brightly colored sweet sandwiches that comically remind me of tiny hamburgers — or perhaps moon pies.

Even after I’d begun to realize that macarons were a fascination for many and saw them in every imaginable color and flavor, it wasn’t until a year ago that I tasted my first:  antique rose in color, delicately crisp, and oh so sweet, it tasted of rose as well.  For someone used to sinking her teeth into a nice bran muffin, I was a bit perplexed and beginning to understand what all the fuss was about.  There didn’t appear to be much to the tiny thing, and yet I knew it was quite the opposite.  A paradox.

I’ve wanted to make macarons for quite a while now, and yet I’ve procrastinated.  Instead of delving into the endless recipe variations, comparing quantities of ingredients, and analyzing techinque, I’ve gazed at the beautiful the colors and admired perfect the shapes.  Finally, I was forced to consider not only how a macaron is made, but to make them along with countless other bakers this month.  The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

After a few days of reading everything I could find about macarons and sifting through the forum comments and advice at The Daring Kitchen, I decided to devote a Sunday to the task.  Not a frilly person by nature, I skipped the gorgeous pinks and bright greens and headed straight for the sturdy, practical flavors of chocolate and peanut butter.

In a house full of men, what would you expect?

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Blueberry Cupcakes and Berry Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Blueberry Cupcakes When Lis of Daring Baker fame asked me to do a post for The Daring Kitchen for July 4th, I thought, sure, no problema.  Absolutely. I’ll get right on that. I imagined all the red, white, and blue possibilites available and scrimped time here and there to google and oogle all that I could find in blogs, and websites, food magazines, and cookbooks.  And since this was back before Father’s Day, I knew that whatever I made would be something I could serve in celebration of my father-in-law who has always been a gracious supporter of my adventures in cooking.

I’d never made a red, white, and blue dessert before, so with the color firmly in my mind (talk about priorities…), I began to think about what it would be.  Berries were a must.  It’s summer, right? They’re everywhere.  For a split second I actually considered making three types of whatever the recipe I chose — as in red this, blue that, and — well, you get the idea.  But no matter how great the idea was, I knew I’d fail on delivery because that seems to be my track record in the kitchen these days.

Cupcakes and ice cream seemed simple enough, and they actually were until I decided to put lots and lots of frosting on the cupcakes.  The ice cream involves no cooking whatsoever, so at least the simplicity of that recipe makes up for the buttercream which still isn’t all that bad if you know that you’ll have to whisk the egg whites over simmering water until they reach a particular temperature and then beat them to a marshmallow-like consistency before proceeding with the recipe.  Practice.  It’s all about the practice — or leading a charmed existence.

The result:  Delicious, but not quite red, white, and blue.   Maybe mauve and pink will be the new thing?  Okay, so probably not. But by all means, check out my post and the recipes for July 4th Treats:  Blueberry Cupcakes and Raspberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream at The Daring Kitchen.  And have a safe, happy July 4th!

Blueberry Cupcakes & Raspberry Cream Cheese Ice Cream

Addendum:  Because I never included the process shots I normally do when I post, I’m adding a few to answer a question in my comments.  Pictures paint a thousand words, right?


Blueberries

Fresh blueberries are heated alone…

IMG_4663

…to achieve this simple sauce…

Blueberry Puree

…which a portion of is mixed with milk and vanilla (above) then added with dry ingredients to the butter-sugar-egg mixture.

A dollop of some of the remaining blueberry sauce is dropped on the top of the batter-filled cups…

…then swirled in with a wooden skewer…

Blueberry Swirl Cupcakes

…and end up looking like this after baking.

Here are the directions:

Not Quite Blue Cupcakes with Not Quite Red Ice Cream
Makes 12 standard cupcakes

For the Cupcakes…
2 Cups + 2 tablespoons sifted all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup of unsalted butter (2 sticks)
1-1/2 cups of Sugar
2 large eggs
1/4 cup of whole milk
1/2 cup of blueberry puree (recipe follows)
1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For the Blueberry Puree…
Bring one pound of blueberries to a boil in a sauce pan over medium heat and stirring frequently so they don’t burn. Reduce heat to low and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 1/2 hour) and the mixture is thick. Cool the blueberries slightly and place in a food processor or mash with a fork. Mix until smooth. For an extra smooth puree pass mixture through a fine sieve before using.

For the Cake…
Cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating
until each is incorporated before adding the next.

Sift dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Mix milk with 1/2 cup of blueberry puree and vanilla in a large measuring cup. Add wet and dry ingredients alternately to butter mixture starting and ending with the dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated after each addition. Do not overbeat.

Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full of batter. Spoon 1 teaspoon of blueberry puree into the center and swirl with a wooden skewer. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to the touch.

Cool 10-15 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with Blueberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream (see below) and top with a fresh blueberry. Daring folks will spoon some blueberry puree over the cupcake before taking a big bite.

For the Blueberry Swiss Meringue Buttercream…
5 egg whites
1-1/4 cups sugar
2 c. unsalted butter, room temp.
1/4 cup + 2 T blueberry puree
Pinch of salt

Place sugar and egg whites in the metal bowl of an electric mixer. Set bowl over a
pan of gently simmering water, and whisk until sugar has dissolved and egg whites are
hot to the touch, about 3 minutes. Test by rubbing the mixture between your fingers; it
should feel completely smooth.

Transfer bowl to mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat on high until mixture has cooled completely (feel the bottom of the bowl) and formed stiff and glossy peaks, about 10 minutes. It will appear somewhat like soft marshmallow in consistency. Add the butter, one piece at a time, and beat until well incorporated after each addition. The buttercream may appear curdled after the butter has been added — keep beating and it will become smooth again. Add blueberry puree and salt and beat just until combined. Switch to the paddle attachment, and beat on the lowest speed to eliminate any air pockets, about 5 minutes.

If using buttercream within several hours, cover bowl with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature in a cool environment. Or transfer to an airtight container, and store in the refrigerator, up to 3 days. Before using, bring buttercream to room temperature, and beat on the lowest speed with the paddle attachment until smooth, about 5 minutes.

The recipe for these cupcakes was adapted from that of Trophy Cupcakes as seen in seattlepi.com — but I was led to that source by the gorgeous cupcakes at The Casual Baker whose Blueberry beauties are far more purple than mine.  Thanks to both sources for such a great recipe!

Banana Whoopie Pies with Salted Caramel Marshmallow Filling

Banana Whoopies with Salted Caramel Filling

If you’re from the West Coast, and don’t happen to be a food blogger, then you probably haven’t heard of a Whoopie Pie.  I could be wrong, but I’ve never seen one here, and when I mentioned that I’d made a batch of my own recently, more than one person asked, “What’s a Whoopie Pie?”  Although at times it feels as if I’ve lived just about everywhere, and did spend some time living on the East Coast when I was a child, I hadn’t heard of them, either. I figured they were Moon Pies even if the only connection I could make was that each was called a pie — a pie that neither resembles.  I know what Moon Pies are and it didn’t take me very long to decide they’re nothing like Whoopie Pies. Sure they can both be considered sandwich type cookies, but I can’t say that very loudly around Whoopie Pie purists who claim they’re absolutely not cookies, either.  Like Moon Pies, Whoopie Pies have three parts:  a top, a bottom, and cream in the middle.  I have to add that the outside is traditionally chocolate, and the filling, white and creamy.  But a Moon Pie has a chocolate coating and a Whoopie doesn’t.

I haven’t tasted a real Whoopie Pie, so I’ll get in trouble for mentioning the “cream” is anything but if you consider that cream comes from a cow.  Actually Whoopie Pie “cream” is more of a marshmallow based filling made with shortening and more fluffy than what you might find in a Moon Pie.  The exterior is more cake like and fluffy.  Your teeth sink right into its sweet softness, and you just may end up with a bit of filling on your face as you take that first bite, because it has a tendency to squish out the sides a bit as you savor it.  But wait.  I said I hadn’t tried a Whoopie Pie before.

So yes, I tried my own.  And true to form, I sort of changed things a bit.  I couldn’t help myself.  Besides, I had a ripe banana just waiting to be baked into something, so that’s where I began. Banana Whoopie Pies?  Sure, why not?  And then I saw this Salted Caramel Buttercream and knew the two together would be irresistable.

I was right, of course.

I will subtley not mention just how many I’ve sampled.

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Strawberry Cupcakes with Strawberry Mousseline Buttercream

Strawberry Cupcakes

When we are invited to my husband’s sister’s house, I usually offer to bring a salad and dessert.  When I think of it, that pretty much sums me up, and I’m smiling because I’ve never thought about it quite like that before.  I love salad and vegetables, and I enjoy making dessert.  Often those are the two items people may not have time to make when they’re putting a big dinner together, so I also like to think that my contributions lighten the load a bit.  If you really know me, you’re thinking she just needs guinea pigs for her experimental cooking and you’d be exactly right.

But since this past weekend we were celebrating Easter and there would be two very cute little kids there, I decided to make cupcakes.  Fluffy, frilly, sprinkly cupcakes.

Pink cupcakes.  Hopefully my nephew would see past the color and focus on the flavor?

Right about the time I was finished decorating and positioning the cupcakes for photos, it occurred to me that I’d have a problem getting them to our destination in pristine form.  I’d blame this on bad planning, but it’s more a case of cerebral flatulence.  Usually, I’m fine carrying whatever it is I’ve made while my husband drives, making sure that while we’re on our way, going down steep hills or around corners doesn’t cause everything to slide around.  But my husband was at work last Saturday, and we’d agreed that I’d pick him up on our way.  Just a bit of a problem.

I drove carrying a plate of these lovelies held like a waitress carries a tray just waiting for someone to see me and think oh jeez, now I’ve seen everything or ask if they might sample one as they pass by in the cross walk.  I was semi-successful getting them to their destination with only a couple of mishaps barely noticeable by my darling little niece who greeted me at the door all dressed in pink.

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