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Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

If you read my How To Make Stuffed Cupcakes post, these pictures probably look familiar to you. I had so many people ask for that recipe (OK, one. One person asked, but still…) that I decided to post my recipe for Boston Cream Pie cupcakes.

Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes

For the Cupcake:

2 cups of flour

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1 stick of butter

1/2 cups of sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tbs vanilla extract

4 egg whites

3/4 cup of whole milk

1/4 cup of oil

For the Filling:

 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, plus one extra yolk

2 tbs flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

For the Ganache Frosting:

2 cups dark chocolate chunks

1 cup cream

1 tsp espresso powder

Preheat oven to 350.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter (softened!) and sugar and cream until light and fluffy. In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well combined. In another bowl, add the milk and oil.

A bit at a time, add the egg whites to the butter and beat on high until well combined and fluffy. With mixer on medium, add the flour mixture and the milk mixture, alternating between the two until everything is just combined (don’t over beat).

Add the batter to the cupcake papers until about 2/3 filled.

Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched.

Allow to cool.

While those are baking, make the pastry cream. You’re gonna love this stuff. I hope that this is what you will make from now on to fill your cakes with, instead of frosting. SO delicious, and pretty easy to make.

In a sauce pan over medium heat, bring the cream to a slight simmer, removing from heat when bubbles start to form around the edges. You don’t want to boil you cream, just heat it.

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and yolk, and flour until well combined and slightly frothy.

While continuing to whisk the egg mixture, add the cream about 1 tbs at a time. This is called tempering and basically, it’s a way to avoid turning your pastry cream into scrambled eggs. Once your have added about half the cream a tbs at a time, pour the rest in slowly and whisk until well combined.

Return the pastry cream to the stove and stir over medium/high heat until it comes to a rapid simmer. Continue to whisk until thickened, between 5 and 10 minutes. The cream should leave a track when you drag the whisk through it.

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. This needs to cool before putting into a piping bag. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface of the cream. This will avoid that gross skin that used to grow on top of the homemade pudding your grandma used to make when it sat in the fridge too long.

You may, or may not remember my How To Make Stuffed Cupcakes post, but you use the same method of filling as I used for those.

Take a small paring knife and remove a chunk of the center of the cupcake. Make sure you leave an ample amount of the wall and sides of the cupcake intact or the filling will run all over the place.

Once the cream has cooled, spoon into a piping bag. Pipe the pastry cream into the middle of the cupcakes.

Next, make the ganache. Ganache is really easy to make, and a fantastic alternative to frosting. This can also be used as a fabulous cake filling.

Put the chocolate in a heat safe bowl, sprinkle with espresso powder. You can omit the espresso powder, but the coffee flavor doesn’t come through with such a small amount. Coffee brightens the flavor of chocolate, that’s why so many chocolate cake recipes call for it. Heat the cream (microwave or stove, either is fine) until hot and steamy but NOT boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir.

For a while, you are gonna stir and stir, and it will just look like chunky chocolate milk.

Don’t worry, it’ll all work out. Just keep stirring until it’s smooth and creamy.

Dip your cupcakes in the warm ganache, swirl a bit.

You can also spread it on with a spoon or pipe it on with a piping bag.


Beer Poached Apples With An Amber Ale Caramel Sauce

I came across Albion Amber Ale, from Marin Brewing Co this week. It isn’t a traditional Amber, but the flavors are bright and complex. One taste of this brown ale, and a caramel sauce immediately came to mind. The rich toffee and nut flavors paired beautifully with this recipe and the strong caramel and malt flavors came through in the sauce in such an amazing way.

Even if you skip the apple, this sauce is so incredible you can eat it right out of the jar with your fingers.

Beer Poached Apples with Amber Ale Caramel Sauce

4 fuji apples

2 1/2 cups (20 oz) Amber Ale

2-4 cups hot water

2 cups brown sugar, packed

3/4 cup heavy cream

2 tbs butter

Peel all four apples with a vegetable peeler. With an apple corer remove the core of the apples. Place in a large sauce pan or pot, cover with the beer. Add enough water so that the apples are no longer touching the bottom of the pot. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a strong simmer. Roll the apples with a fork frequently to insure that all side of the apples are evenly cooked. Poach for 20 minutes or until the apples are fork tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the apples.

Raise the heat to a strong boil and reduce the liquid to 1 cup. Depending on how much water you added, this should take about 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and add the brown sugar, stir until dissolved. Add a thermometer with a clip to the side of you pan, submerging the tip in the liquid, but making sure it does not hit the bottom of the pan.

Boil, without stirring, until the temperature reaches between 225-230 degrees. Remove from heat and stir until the bubbling subsides. Add the cream and butter, stir to combine. Allow to cool.

Top the apples with the caramel and the chopped nuts.

Another fabulous way to serve this is to chop the apples, and serve the apples, nuts and caramel over vanilla ice cream. Amazing.

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Party Food: Mini Galettes {Strawberry Brie & Bacon Goat Cheese}

The requirements for party food are pretty simple, but hard and fast.

  1. Yummy
  2. Must travel well
  3. Must have the ability to sit at room temperature for extended periods of time
  4. Bonus if it evokes this sentence from at least one other party goer: "Can I get that recipe from you?"
Mini galettes also have the added bonus of being adorable and fairly easy to make. If you want to make them with store bough crust, I may pound on you a little bit. The crust takes about 8 active minutes plus it’s really, really SO much better than store bought.
Feel free to make these your own and use what ever flavor combinations you love.
Miniature Galettes

CRUST

2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

1 1/2 sticks of butter

1/3 cup ice cold water

FOR THE STRAWBERRY BRIE

4 oz brie, cut into slices

3/4 cups strawberries, chopped

1 tbs butter, melted

2 tbs sugar

FOR THE BACON GOAT CHEESE

6 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped

3 oz goat cheese, crummbled

1/2 cup fresh spinach, chopped (don’t use frozen, too much water)

Makes 12 (6 of each)

In a food processor, combine 1 1/3 cup flour, salt, sugar and butter, process until well combined. Add the remaining flour and process again until combined. Transfer to a bowl and add the water with a wooden spoon (don’t add the water while the dough is in the food processor or your dough will be brittle and cracker-like). If the dough isn’t moist enough, you can add more water, a tsp at a time until the consistency is right. Form dough into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. You can make this up to 5 days ahead of time, just place the dough, wrapped in plastic wrap, in a large zip lock bag.

Place your chilled dough on a well floured surface. Top with more flour and roll until your dough is fairly thin and even. Cut out 12, 4 inch circles. I didn’t have a biscuit cutter that size so I used a margarita glass.

Place the dough circles on baking sheets that are either covered with parchment paper or sprayed with cooking spray.

Strawberry Brie:

A Trader Joe’s just opened on Friday down the street from my house. I am inappropriately excited about living within walking distance from such a fabulous food source. I bought these cute mini brie wheels. These are also fantastic to make mini baked brie out of, but that is for another post.

I cut each wheel into 3-4 slices. If you don’t live by a Trader Joe’s, you can also just use regular brie and cut it into slices small enough to fit inside the circle.

Place about 1 tbs of brie in the center of 6 of the circles. Top with about 2 tbs of strawberries.

Fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Pleat and press the edges when necessary.

Brush each of the 6 Mini Galettes with melted butter, sprinkle with about 1 tsp of sugar each.

Bacon Goat Cheese:

For the remaining 6 circles, add about 1-2 tbs of goat cheese to each circle. Top with 1-2 tbs of chopped spinach, sprinkle with bacon.

Fold the edges up over the filling, leaving the center open. Pleat and press the edges when necessary.

Brush the folded edge of each of the 6 Mini Galettes with melted butter.

Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, or until the crust is a light golden brown.

Gingerbread Ale Beer Bread

Beer bread is simple. A few ingredients creates a soft, but dense bread. The basic principle is to use the beer as the yeast. Although beer is great in this capacity, adding a leavening agent like baking soda, or self rising flour, is important to help keep the bread from becoming too dense. The simple ingredients open the possibility to so many different types of flavorings. Beer bread can be sweet or savory.

I got my hands on a few bottles of the Gingerbread Ale from Bison Brewery for this batch of beer bread. The gingerbread flavors worked so well with the recipe, leaving a mild but distinct flavors of ginger and beer.

Gingerbread Beer Bread

3 cups all purpose flour

2/3 cup brown sugar

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 cup chopped pecans

12 oz Bison Gingerbread Ale

TOPPING:

2 tbs melted butter

2 tbs brown sugar

 

Preheat oven to 375. Spray a large loaf pan with butter flavored cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, 2/3 cup brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and pecans. Stir until well combined.  Add the beer all at once. It will foam up. Stir quickly to combine. Don’t worry about lumps, thats normal.

Add to your batter greased loaf pan. Pour the melted butter on top of your loaf and sprinkle with the brown sugar.

Bake for 40 minutes or until the butter has completely absorbed into your loaf and a wooden skewer inserted into the center of your loaf comes out clean.


Figs In A Blanket

Only three ingredients. Perfect for a party, and I do believe that Halloween kicks off the party season. The fall is filled with holidays, parties, my birthday…OK, so maybe there is a chance you’re not thinking about that last one. The number one food related question people ask me is about recipes for easy, yummy party food. First, party food generally has to travel well. Second, it has to survive at room temp for extended periods of time. Third, it has to be a crowd pleaser. I do believe, Figs in a Blanket meet all of those requirements.

Figs in a Blanket

12 figs

12 slices of bacon

3 oz goat cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Cut the figs in half.

2. Scoop out a large portion of the insides with a melon baller (a small spoon should do fine as well).

4. Fill the hole with yummy goat cheese.

5. Re-assemble the fig and wrap it tightly with a strip of bacon. Secure with a toothpick.

6. Place figs on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 8 minutes, turn over and bake until the bacon is cooked through, about 8 more minutes.

Pesto Breakfast Tart

I love breakfast. I eat it every day. Most days, it’s whole wheat toast with peanut butter when I’m running out the door. But on those lovely lazy days when I’m home with my amazing husband and adorable little lady, I make breakfast. This tart is a favorite. Easy to put together, but looks and tastes very impressive.

Pesto Breakfast Tart

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed

3 strips of bacon

2 tbs butter

2 tsp pesto

1 roasted red pepper, chopped (jarred is fine)

3 asparagus spears

4 basil leaves, chopped

4  Safest Choice eggs

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Place the puff pastry on a sheet of parchment paper and roll with a rolling pin in each direction a few times to make the pastry thinner, wider, and longer. Transfer the pastry, and the parchment paper to a baking sheet. poke several dozen holes in the puff pastry to avoid large air pockets from forming.

Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until a light golden brown.

Allow to cool a bit.

While the pastry is baking, cook the bacon in a skillet until mostly cooked, but not crispy. Chop into pieces. (Don’t forget to save your bacon grease so you can make my Bacon Fat Tortillas)

In a microwave safe bowl, add the butter and pesto. Microwave for 20 seconds, stir and repeat until melted. Brush all over the pastry with a pastry brush.

Top with chopped basil, chopped bacon and chopped red pepper.

Place the asparagus flat on a cutting board, hold the stem tight with one hand, and with the other, shave the asparagus with a vegetable peeler.

Crack 4 eggs directly onto the puff pastry, one in each corner, avoiding the edges. Leave at least a once inch gap on all sides.

I love a runny yolk. LOVE. It’s natures perfect sauce. And Safest Choice Eggs are pasteurized so I can serve them without fear of ruining my perfect breakfast memory with a nasty bout of Salmonella poisoning. It’s pretty genius.

Sprinkle with the shaved asparagus, then with the salt and pepper.

Bake at 350 for an additional 15 minutes, or until the whites of the eggs have set and turned white. Cut the tart into four squares.

How To: Make Bacon (or Vegan) Tortillas


Every time that Mr. Fits, Tater and I are all home, lucky enough to wake up with no place to go, I make breakfast. I love this ritual, and I hope that it continues well into my old, old age (I do plan on living past 100, cooking the entire way, aided by a Rascal Scooter if necessary). Most of these breakfast involve bacon. For the past few months I have been saving the rendered bacon fat by pouring it through a mesh strainer into a small container and storing it in the fridge, waiting for brilliance to strike. I found the homemade tortilla recipe of the fabulous Rick Bayless (who is on my "Culinary Crush" list) and the bacon finally had a grand purpose.  If you are kosher, vegetarian or watching your saturated fat intake, or just crazy enough not to like bacon, you can use vegetable shortening, Smart Balance Light (it’s actually vegan), butter or oil.  Although the flavor won’t be the same if you use another fat and you will have to watch the ratios since these fats all behave differently. But if you can, save bacon drippings and try the bacon flavored tortillas, so incredible.

Bacon Fat Flour Tortillas

(Adapted From Rick Bayless)

Makes 12 tortillas

INGREDIENTS

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus a little extra for rolling the tortillas

5 tablespoons of fat (bacon fat, vegetable shortening, etc)

3/4 teaspoon salt

about 3/4 cup very warm tap water

DIRECTIONS

As I mentioned previously, save your bacon grease by pouring it through a fine mesh strainer into a container with a tight lid (just pour the next round on the top of the previous) and keeping it in the fridge. This stuff is liquid gold, don’t pour it down the drain.

1.   Combine the flour and fat (I used 5 tbs bacon fat) in a large mixing bowl, working in the fat with your fingers, until completely incorporated.

2. Dissolve the salt in the water, pour about 2/3 cup of it over the dry ingredients and immediately work it in with a fork.

The dough will be in large clumps rather than a homogeneous mass.

If all the dry ingredients haven’t been dampened, add the rest of the liquid (plus a little more, if necessary).

3. Scoop the dough onto your floured work surface

and knead until smooth.

It should be medium-stiff consistency — definitely not firm, but not quite as soft as most bread dough either. Cover with a towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes to an hour.

4.   Rest the dough.  Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll each into a ball.  Set them on a plate, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at least 30 minutes (to make the dough less springy, easier to roll).

5.  You can either press your tortillas using a tortilla press lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking, which I used

or you can roll them with a rolling pin using this method:

On a lightly floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into an even 7-inch circle:  Flatten a ball of dough, flour it, then roll forward and back across it; rotate a sixth of a turn and roll forward and back again; continue rotating and rolling until you reach a 7-inch circle, lightly flouring the tortilla and work surface from time to time.

Make sure the tortillas are very thin, almost thinner than you think they should be.

6. Heat an ungreased griddle or heavy skillet over medium to medium-high heat.  

Lay the tortilla on the hot griddle (you should hear a faint sizzle and see an almost immediate bubbling across the surface).

After 30 to 45 seconds, when there are browned splotches underneath, flip it over. You will know it is time to flip when the edges look dry and lighter in color.  Bake 30 to 45 seconds more, until the other side is browned; don’t overbake the tortilla or it will become crisp.  Remove and wrap in a cloth napkin placed in a tortilla warmer.  Roll or press and then griddle-bake the remaining tortillas in the same manner and stacking them one on top of the other.

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

I’m beginning to wonder about people who HATE pumpkin. I can see hating a particular pumpkin dish, but ALL pumpkin? Maybe you just haven’t had enough different types of pumpkin. I love pumpkin, but probably because I love anything that can blur the lines of what we expect. Pumpkin can be sweet, salty, savory, pie, pasta, tart…It’s a vegetable that can masquerade as a dessert! That’s pretty fantastic.

Here is my recipe for pumpkin cookies, with the added tartness of cranberry.

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies

 

Yield 24

 

1 1/2 cups of flour

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup dried cranberries

3 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup pumpkin puree

 

Glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoon orange juice (no pulp)

(makes about 12 cookies)

 

  1. Preheat oven to 350.

 

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt and cranberries, whisk until combined.

 

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and both types of sugar on high speed until well combined. Add the egg, vanilla and pumpkin puree, mix until well combined. Turn the mixer on low and add the flour until just incorporated.

 

  1. On a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, drop about 2 tablespoon of the batter at a time, evenly spaced.

 

  1. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown and the cookies are cooked through.

 

  1. Allow to cool.

 

  1. To make the glaze, add the powdered sugar and orange juice to a bowl and mix well with a fork until combined. Spoon onto the top of the cooled cookies.


Pumpkin Hummus

So, what do you do when you roast 4 pumpkins and  end up with several containers FULL of homemade pumpkin puree? AND you have a husband that "Isn’t really crazy about that whole pumpkin flavor"? Besides the Pumpkin Pie With Bourbon Whipped Cream I made, and the Pumpkin Cranberry Cookies, I made hummus. Hummus, cookies and pie that I had the sole responsibility of consuming, which also turned into a few extra, much needed, workouts and spin classes. Totally worth it.

This hummus also became the "dressing" on my salad for lunch, and the schemer for my ham sandwich at lunch the next day. So many yummy uses.

Pumpkin Hummus

1½ cup  Cooked Garbanzo Beans, drained and dry

1 cup  Pumpkin Puree (step by step for how to roast a pumpkin)

2 Tbsp Tahini (sesame paste)

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

¼ cup Fresh Lemon Juice

½ tsp  Salt

½ tsp  Ground Cinnamon

½ tsp  Ground Nutmeg

2 cloves Garlic, minced

¼ tsp  Coriander

Put it all in a food processor and blend it until its nice and creamy. Serve with bread, pitas, crackers, or veggies.

Inside Out Caramel Apples

There has always been a problem with caramel apples. The ratio is off, backwards even. There just isn’t enough caramel and you’re left with, well, a half eaten apple on a stick.

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Halloween Recipe: Avocado Witches Fingers

Spooky Halloween treat. Looks like slimy, severed fingers, makes you hungry, right? That’s the best part about Halloween, you get to make crazy, gross, appetizers that are inspired by dismembered body parts and people love it.

Spooky Avocado Witches Fingers

4 Avocados
peeled, pitted and halved
1 tbs lemon or lime juice
2 ounces goat cheese
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 ounce prosciutto slices

Cut each avocado half into 4-6 slices. Place in medium bowl and gently toss in lemon juice.

 Fill the center of each avocado slice with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon goat cheese mixture.

Sprinkle with salt, pepper and chili powder.

Wrap each avocado “finger” with 1/3 slice of prosciutto until the goat cheese is secured to the avocado. Make sure to leave the tip of the avocado exposed, to resemble a finger nail. Arrange the avocados in the shape of a hand on the plate to add extra spookiness. Serve and Enjoy!

Check out my other Halloween Posts:

DIY Glow In the Dark Chosts. Take 5 minutes!

Inside Out Caramel Apples


Pomegranate Streusel Muffins

POM Wonderful really is wonderful. I remember the days before POM, when I was a kid, and I had to get on my "dirty clothes"  and sit in the bathtub just to eat a pomegranate. Seriously, actual fact. Now, you can buy all these great pomegranate related products, all the antioxidant and yumminess without the blood-like stains. Win, win.

I made these during Rosh Hashanah. I’m not Jewish, but I have recently had the honor of learning about all the beautiful food traditions the Jewish religion has. I had lunch with my friend Tori, of The Shiksa In The Kitchen, the other day and she told me all about eating pomegranets during the Jewish New Year to "to remind ourselves that our good deeds in the coming year should be plentiful." Now, who can’t get behind that? Wouldn’t the world just be a better place if we all took a second to remind ourselves to do more good deeds in the coming year?

Besides the beautiful symbolism of eating pomegranates during the High Holiday, these muffins were awesome. I was so happy with how they turned out.

Pomegranate Streusel Muffins

2/3 cup white sugar

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/3 cup almonds, chopped (BTW: POM Wonderful ALSO has almonds! And, they’re great)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/3 cup chopped pecans

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 tsp salt

2 1/2 sticks butter, cold, cut into cubes

2 eggs

1/2 cup sour cream

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup POM Wonderful Pomegranate juice

1/2 cup POM Wonderful Pomegranate seeds

Preheat oven to 350.

In a bowl add the white sugar, brown sugar, flour, baking powder, almonds, cinnamon, pecans, oats and salt. Stir to combine. Add the butter cubes and using either your hands or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour mixture until it is well combined and resembles crumbs. Measure three cups of the crumb mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Put the rest of the crumbs into the refrigerator to chill.

Add the eggs, sour cream, vanilla, and pomegranate juice to the mixer. Mix on medium/low speed until just combined. Don’t over mix. Add the pomegranate seeds and stir to combine.

Spray the wells of a muffin tin with butter flavored cooking spray. Add the batter to the wells until about 1/2 way full. Top with the chilled crumbs until the wells are filled to just below the top, about 1 or 2 tbs of crumbs.

Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until a tooth pick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Allow to cool before serving.

Makes 20 muffins

How To: Make Vanilla Pastry Cream, and What To Do With It

I’m going to push you one step further with your cake baking. You know that yummy cream that is inside doughnuts, the center of cream puffs and even the filling for that fantastic bakery fresh cakes? That’s pastry cream. And it’s easy to make. Even if you aren’t quite ready to give up the box cake mix, take the leap in dressing it up, super fancy, to make all those cake calories totally worth it. Pastry cream brings your cake way past the next level on to the "Did you really make this? Really? It’s amazing" level that you may have doubted you would ever reach. But you will. I believe in you.

Stop filling your cakes with frosting. Frosting is for the outside of the cake. Pastry cream is delicious and you should put this on your cake bakin' TO DO list. It’s easy, you’ll thank me with a big slice of yummy cake.

Vanilla Pastry Cream

 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1/2 cup sugar

2 large eggs, plus one extra yolk

2 tbs flour

2 tsp vanilla extract

Step One:

In a sauce pan over medium heat, bring the cream to a slight simmer, removing from heat when bubbles start to form around the edges. You don’t want to boil you cream, just heat it.

Step Two:

In a separate bowl, whisk the sugar, eggs and yolk, and flour until well combined and slightly frothy.

 

Step Three:

While continuing to whisk the egg mixture, add the cream about 1 tbs at a time. This is called tempering and basically, it’s a way to avoid turning your pastry cream into scrambled eggs. Once your have added about half the cream a tbs at a time, pour the rest in slowly and whisk until well combined.

Step Four:

Return the pastry cream to the stove and stir over medium heat until it comes to a low simmer. Continue to whisk until thickened, between 5 and 10 minutes. The cream should leave a track when you drag the whisk through it.

Step Five:

Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. This needs to cool before putting into a piping bag, a cake or your mouth. Pour into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, pressing it to the surface of the cream. This will avoid that gross skin that used to grow on top of the homemade pudding your grandma used to make when it sat in the fridge too long.

For the raspberries, I put the pastry cream into a piping bag and piped them into the middle of raspberries. As if I needed another reason to eat raspberries. Or pastry cream.

This makes 2 cups, enough to fill between two layers. The cake I made last week was three layers of white cake so I doubled the recipe.

Chocolate Orange Creamsicle Cookies

I originally titled these: Chocolate Shortbread Cookies with Orange Cream and Chocolate Orange Ganache. Although that is much more descriptive, it was just too dang long. I wanted something to bring to the Los Angeles Food Bloggers Meeting, and this is how these things evolved in my brain:

I should try to make chocolate shortbread cookies, but I want to put something on top. I’ll make them like the Mini Lemon Meringue Tarts, but use orange. And Ganache instead of meringue. Orange ganache. Hope this works.

Chocolate Orange Creamsicle Cookies

For The Chocolate Shortbread:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

For The  Orange Cream:

2 tbs orange zest

5 egg yolks

1/2 cup white sugar

3/4 cup orange juice

5 tbs unsalted butter, cut into cubes

For The Orange Ganache:

1 cup dark chocolate chunks

2/3 cup heavy cream

2 tbs orange zest

1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange-flavored liqueur

Preheat oven to 325.

Cream the butter and powdered sugar until well combined, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and beat until combined. In separate  bowl, whisk the cocoa and flour together until well combined. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture.

Put about 2 tbs of the dough into each well of a muffin tin (spray with butter flavored cooking spray before hand), forming the dough up onto the side to make a cup with a large well in the center.

Chill the dough in the muffin tin for at least an hour.

Bake at 325 for 15 minutes. Allow to cool

Make the orange cream. I love this, it’s based on my lemon curd recipe but the orange is awesome.

Add the orange zest, orange juice, sugar and yolks to a bowl and mix well. Add the orange mixture to a pan over medium/low heat along with the butter.

Whisk until thickened, about 8 minutes. Once the mini tart shells are cooled, spoon in the orange cream.

Place the chocolate and the orange zest in a heat safe bowl. In a separate bowl, heat the cream and the orange-flavored liqueur until hot and steam, but not boiling (microwave is fine but you can also heat on the stove) and pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Stir for about 3 minutes or until well combined. If you have never made ganache or chocolate sauce, you may get a bit concerned about half way through. It is completely normal for your sauce to look like chunky chocolate milk for the first few minutes, just keep stirring and it’ll all work out.

Allow the ganche to cool a bit, then add it to the top of the cookies.

Two Peas In A Pod: Twin Girl Baby Shower

(The above invitation was made by Kim Nelson)

My friend Lindsay is pretty amazing. I mean, how many people can say they got pregnant twice in the same week? Thats pretty efficient if you ask me. She is due with her twin girls pretty soon and I was one of the lucky ladies (along with my friend Emily, who is gorgeous, and her house is so beautiful it made any type of decorations borderline unnecessary) who got to throw this amazing Mom a baby shower.

Two Peas in a Pod was a fun theme, however, it was pretty hard to find adorable embellishments to go along with the party so I had to rely on Etsy and my own craft prowess to get me through.

I ordered stickers from Autumnleah On Etsy that said, "Two Peas In A Pod, Lefler Twin Girls." Adorable. I used them on mini takeout boxes for the candy buffet,

I also used the stickers to make take away cupcake bags using mini pink lunch bags and ribbon.

Of course, the candy buffet was pink and green and a big hit.

I made a sign for the candy buffet that said:

Two Peas in A Pod

Life is good, the Leflers  are blessed

With two little ladies, there will be no rest

Twice the dresses, twice the curls

Two beautiful, lovely, little girls

As we celebrate a gift so sweet,

Please enjoy a box of treats!

I made cupcake toppers with supplies from Paper Dozen on Etsy.

We also had people write down wishes and prayers for the Lefler family, easily my favorite activity of the day. I made the wish sign from chipboard letters, ribbon, brads, and scalloped circles from JCSkyline on Etsy. I heart Etsy and those crafting geniuses who sell their wares.


I also made my very first diaper cake. Tater picked out the frogs for the top, although I’m pretty sure she had no idea I would ask her to part with them. I did distract her with fresh strawberries and a juice box.

Now, no one really tells you this, but it turns out that photographing a 15 foot banner is actually harder than making a 15 foot banner. Here is my best attept. Although it’s hard to see, I was pretty dang proud of that banner. I use scrapbook paper, pink paper circle coaster from the Martha Stewart Crafts collection, sparkly chipboard letters, grosgrain ribbon and tiny little clothespins.

It says, "Welcome Sweet Peas." Anytime you have to actually explain what’s in a photo, it’s not a good photo. Sorry, Nikon, it wasn’t your fault.

I also made hanging paper lanterns, the green ones not the pink one. My crafting skills aren’t quite that good yet. I used the same techniques that I used in this hanging paper lantern tutorial. If you want to make super duper cheap lanterns for your own party, it is super duper easy.


We also had food. I know, we’re pretty crazy.

Mini quiches

Berry platter that was as much of a decoration as it was a food item, so beautiful.

I made two kinds of Salad Skewers, Goat cheese, Roasted Beet & Arugula as well as the ever popular Caprese Skewers.

We also had delicious mimosas, some made with real life champagne and others with pregnancy friendly sparkling cider.

And I made a cake! Shocking, I know. It was a white cake with a vanilla pastry cream filling and a brown sugar buttercream frosting. I used the same cake batter recipe I used for these cupcakes, the same  frosting as with these cupcakes (the NON-beer version) and I decided to post a How To on making pastry cream because that dang cream was so good it was the true star of the cake. I made the peas in a pod out of fondant and doughnut holes, and brushed them with luster dust.

Oh yeah, there were people there too, and some super cute babies.

For the Lefler Family, My wish to you:

I Wish You Well, By Bill Withers

I wish you flowers sunshine and smiles
I wish your children that grow to make you proud
I wish you pretty things to wear
Sweet things to smell

I wish you well (oh I wish you well)
I wish you well (oh I wish you well)
I wish you well (oh I wish you well)
I wish you well (well)

I wish you good friends that always treat you fair
Wanna wish you ribbons to tie around your hair
I wish you, truckloads of cheer
and many happy years

I wish you well (oh I wish you well)
I wish you well (oh I wish you well)
I wish you well (oh I wish you well)
I wish you well (well)

I wish you freedom to do the things you love
Wanna wish you blessings and kindness from above
Wanna wish you sunlight through the clouds
I hope you laugh out loud

I wish you well (oh I wish you well)
I wish you well (oh I wish you well)
I wish you well (oh I wish you well)
I wish you well (well)

How To: Make Stuffed Cupcakes

If you are a cupcake person, learning to stuff them is just an essential skill. Really, ESSENTIAL. Slight exaggerations aside, stuffing cupcakes brings them to the next level, adding another flavor, another texture and another dimension.

I’m going to highlight three common cupcake stuffin' techniques today, each one  has advantages and it will largely depend on what you are stuffing with to decide which one to go with.

The first method is to stuff pre-cooking. This only works with a filling that can be baked. I use this a lot to stuff cupcakes with cheesecake. Yep, cheesecake stuffed cupcakes.

First, you will need your two components, the cupcake batter and the filling batter (like cheesecake, or cookie dough). These can be the same flavor of different flavors. For my Key LIme Pie cupcakes, I used a white cake batter and a key lime cheesecake batter.

First, fill your cupcakes only half way full

Using a spoon, make a well in the middle but pushing the batter up onto the sides of the cupcake papers.

Fill the well with about 1 tbs of the cream cheese mixture.

Bake until the cupcake batter is done, the cheesecake filling will cook at about the same rate. You want to make sure not to over cook your cupcake batter. 

The second method is to bake the cupcakes and fill them later. Once your cupcakes have baked and cooled, you can create a hole in the middle in two ways.

The first way is to use a paring knife to remove a cone shaped section of the middle of the cupcake.

Don’t remove the bottom of the cupcake.

The second method of stuffing pre-cooked cupcakes if to smash a hole in the middle with the handle of a wooden spoon.

This does create a denseness at the bottom of the cupcake, but that can work to your advantage if you are using a particularly moist filling, like jam.

Use a piping bag to fill the hole that you have created in your cupcake. If you don’t have a piping bag, you should get one, but in the mean time use a Ziplock bag with a bit of the bottom corner cut off.

Then, just frost as usual. I used chocolate ganache to frost these, but this also makes for a great filling.

Enjoy!

Do you have a How To that you want to see? Email it tome at [email protected] or leave it on my Facebook wall at:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Domestic-Fits/230654216968376

Cheddar Beer Biscuits

When you go about baking biscuits, beer is a great addition. Not only because beer is fantastic will every possible edible substance, but because the the carbonation is an amazing leavening agent that lends itself well to culinary beer usage.

For this recipe I used a Orange Wheat beer from Hangar 24, a Southern California based brewery. The beer was beautiful and the flavors where perfect for these biscuits. When I pick up a beer with fruit on the label, I am initially a touch apprehensive. I wait for the possibility of a Hard Cider like taste with the hesitation of a contused prostitute, before taking a sip. I am HAPPY to report that the natural orange was perfectly subtle and a well balanced citrus flavors, with a clean, crisp finish.

Even after cooking, the flavors stayed intact and complimented the white cheddar beautifully.

 

I also used Kerrygold cheese, although this has nothing to do with Oktoberfest, it’s just really great cheddar. The flavors are perfect for this recipe.

Cheddar Beer Biscuits

2 cups of flour

1/2 tsp sea salt

1 1/2 tsp black pepper

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sugar

1 stick (8 tbs) butter, cut into small cubes

1/2 cup craft wheat beer (Orange Wheat from Hanger 24 preferred)

1/2 cup white cheddar (Kerrygold reserve preferred)

Preheat oven to 400.

Put the flour, salt, pepper, baking powder, baking soda and sugar in your food processor and pulse until combined. Add your butter cubes and  process until the butter is evenly distributed, about 1-2 minutes.

Move to a bowl and add the cheese and beer and stir until combined.

 

Dump the dough onto a floured surface. Squish together with your hands to form a ball and then flatten into a rectangle about 6  inches wide and 10 inches long and 2 inches high. Use a sharp knife to cut the biscuits into squares.

 

You can make them as big or small as you want, but this recipe will make 6-8 average sized biscuits.

Place the biscuits on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Sprinkle the top with a bit of sea salt and pepper.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until light golden brown.