Monday, July 30, 2012

Shoo-fly Cupcakes CAN be delicious!

It is time to confess that I am not in love with all Pennsylvania Dutch foods.  While I enjoy Whoopie Pies, soft pretzels and all the fresh produce Lancaster County has to offer, I don't eat sauerkraut, ham loaf is not a staple in my home, and Shoo-fly pie is definitely not a favorite.  I have heard that it is an acquired taste, and apparently, it takes longer for some of us to acquire that taste!  However, I recently had a friend, Mitch, give me some promotional ingredients from the company where he works.  He works for Good Food, Inc. and one of the products they manufacture is molasses.  In case you aren't exactly sure what molasses is, let me give you a little background.  If you have never seen molasses, it looks like a really dark syrup.  However, it has a very pungent smell and is not as sweet as syrup.  Anyway, I took on the challenge of creating a Shoo-fly cupcake that would entice even those of us who aren't crazy about the pie.  This is what I came up with...

 This is the molasses that I used in my cupcakes.  As I said before, this is locally made.  I really like the idea of using as many local ingredients as I can, and I think when making cupcakes based on a Lancaster county dessert, it is only right to use molasses made right here! 
Shoo-fly cupcake ingredients:
- 2 c boiling water
- 1 c dark molasses
- 4 c all-purpose flour
- 2 c dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1 c butter, very cold and cubed
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 tsp baking soda

1. Mix molasses and boiling water.  Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, and salt.  Cut in the butter until crumbly.  Set aside 1 cup to use for the topping.  Add baking soda to remaining crumb mixture.
I used a food processor to incorporate the cold butter into the flour mixture...
And it looks like this afterwards.  Then, I transferred the mixture to my mixing bowl (I needed more space!)

3. Stir in molasses and water until well blended.
4. Fill paper-lined muffin cups about two-thirds full.  Sprinkle with the reserved crumb mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.
5. Cool for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Here is the final product...wait, something is missing!  It wouldn't be a true cupcake without some kind of frosting :)

Whipped Cream Frosting:
- 2 c heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 c powdered sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Mix whipping cream on high until soft peaks form.
2. Add powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  I like the sweetness this adds, but you can always add more or less powdered sugar to suit your taste. Whip until stiff peaks form.

Now here is the final product!
This really does make a great cupcake, one that even those of us who are not fans of the traditional pie can appreciate!

Cupcake Tip of the Blog:
When making a whipped cream frosting, put a stainless steel bowl and wire mixing paddle in the freezer for 15-30 minutes.  This will keep your cream cold and allow it to get fluffy and stay set when you whip it. 

Thank you to Good Food Inc. and Mitch Hertzler for supplying the molasses and brown sugar samples for use in these cupcakes.  I hope I made Lancaster County proud!

Coming up-the Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake!  Check back soon for some chocolate decadence!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sweet Strawberries

I know I said I was going to talk about some lemon-blueberry cupcakes I have made, however I made strawberry shortcake cupcakes over the weekend and they are so fresh in my mind.  My husband had some friends over for a game night the other night, and I thought they would be perfect taste-testers for a new cupcake.  My husband loves strawberry shortcake, so we came up with a strawberry shortcake cupcake.  It is a yellow cupcake with a strawberry compote center and a strawberry buttercream.  Had the humidity not been so intense, my original frosting-a sweet whipped cream-would have survived.  Sadly, it was so humid that my whipped cream fell flat after just a few minutes.  And being the perfectionist that I am, I had to make a frosting that not only tasted great but looked beautiful.  The cupcakes still came out great, and my husband's friends seemed to like them.  So, add one more to the recipe box for the future bakery!

Fresh strawberries in the frosting add a sweet, natural touch to these cupcakes

Cupcake ingredients:
- 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
- 1 c white sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/2 c unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg, room temperature
- 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
- 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 c sour cream, room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.

3. Using electric mixer, mix the butter, egg, egg yolks, vanilla extract, and sour cream until blended well.  I like to add the egg and egg yolks one at a time.

4.  Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until just blended, do not over mix.

5. Evenly fill the paper cups.  Baker for 25 minutes, until pale gold and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

6. Set on cooling rack to cool completely.  Meanwhile, let's start on the compote!

Strawberry Filling:
-32 oz fresh strawberries
- 1/4 c sugar
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 3 tbsp cornstarch
- pinch of salt

1. Rinse, drain, remove caps and dice strawberries small. 

2. Place in a large bowl and add sugar.  Stir and allow to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

3. After 30 minutes, drain the juice from the strawberries into a 1 cup measuring cup.  Add enough water to make 1 full cup, if necessary.

4. In a small saucepan, combine the strawberry liquid, lemon juice, cornstarch and salt.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture boils and becomes thick enough to coat back of spoon.

5. Remove from stove and cool completely.  Stir cooled mixture into strawberries and stir.  *I left the strawberries in chunks to add some texture, but you can always puree the filling if you like a smoother texture*

6. Now, to fill the cupcakes I used a small apple corer to create a hole in the center of the cupcakes. 

7. Fill each cupcake with a healthy amount of the filling, I tend to overfill a little to assure the cupcakes are full (this is where taking pictures throughout the process would be helpful!  Lesson learned.)

Using a corer helps to make perfect, uniform holes in the cupcakes.

Frosting time!

Strawberry Frosting:
- 1 c unsalted butter, softened
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 4 c powdered sugar, sifted
- 1 tbsp milk
- 1/2 c fresh strawberries, diced very small

1. In a large bowl, cream butter with electric mixer.

2. Add vanilla

3. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed.  Scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally. 

4. Add the milk and the strawberries and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy.  I only used 1 tbsp of milk, because the strawberries add moisture too, but if you prefer a thinner frosting, add more milk.

5. Pipe or spread frosting onto cupcakes and this is what you get!

Now, there are some changes I might make to these in the future, just to try something different: I might make a strawberry mousse filling and try that sweet whipped cream frosting.  What do you think?

I bought some peaches at the store last night, so today the kids and I are going to test a peach cupcake with brown sugar frosting.  Feel free to drop me a line if you are interested in trying these!!

Cupcake Tip of the Blog
A new addition to the blog I thought might be fun was to add a Cupcake Tip of the Blog. So tip #1: if you let your cupcakes cool in the fridge, they will be firm and it will be much easier to cut/core out center. Also, make sure not to dig too far down, or else you will take paper liner with you!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Peanut Butter Bliss

Peanut butter and chocolate are a classic combination, so it makes sense to make a chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting.  But I decided to change it up a bit and make a chocolate cupcake that is actually healthier (that's right, I said healthier). I had found a recipe a while back for a low fat chocolate cupcake, and I gave it a try.  I figured maybe I wouldn't feel so guilty eating chocolate if it didn't have eggs or butter or oil in it.  The original recipe actually uses a cake mix, but I really wanted to make my batter from scratch.  With my husband and my kids as my guinea pigs, I set out last week to make the perfect "healthy" chocolate cupcake.  I love how these cupcakes come out so moist, especially since chocolate cupcakes have a tendancy to dry out.  Now, let me be honest here and say that there is nothing healthy about the peanut butter frosting!  However, it tastes amazing and compliments the cupcake really well.  Below is the recipe for both the cupcake and frosting.

Thank you to my friend, Kat Hertzler, for taking these photos!  I found these cute green polka dot cupcake liners to use, I love all the choices there are these days!
Chocolate Cupcakes:
- 2 c all purpose flour
- 1 c unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Wilbur's dutch cocoa-for those local folks who want to use something truly decadent!)
- 2 c sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 pkg sugar free chocolate pudding mix (1.4 oz)
- 1 c pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 c sour cream
- 1 c coffee, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.  In a large bowl, sift together flour and cocoa powder.  Whisk in sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  In another large bowl, whisk together pudding mix, pumpkin puree, vanilla, sour cream and coffee.  Add dry ingredients and stir until well combined.  Divide evenly into prepared pans.  Bake for 24-25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.  Cool cupcakes on a wire rack completely before frosting.

Peanut Butter Frosting:
- 1/2 c butter
- 1 c creamy peanut butter
- 4 c powdered sugar
- 1/3 c heavy cream (can substitute with milk)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat butter and peanut butter until light and fluffy.  Slowly beat in 1/2 of the powdered sugar, 1/4 c of the cream and the vanilla extract.  Beat in the remaining powdered sugar, adding the remaining cream until the consistency you want is reached.  Pipe or spread onto cooled cupcakes.

Here is another look at the end result:

I promise you will not be able to tell that these are made without eggs, butter or oil.  It's just a small way to cut out some of the fat and calories, while still being able to enjoy a little taste of heaven.  Enjoy!!
If any of you out there have a suggestion for a cupcake flavor, feel free to let me know and I will experiment for you.  Of course, you can have the end result! 

Next blog, a cupcake that will make you think of summer.  How about a blueberry and lemon cupcake?  Check back soon for some more cupcake bliss :)