Saturday, July 31, 2010

S'mores Cupcakes

YUMMY!  I have been reading the Pastry Queen's party cookbook and loving all the recipes and family stories that center around Texas cooking.  We have an abundance of influences here in the Lone Star state, which was my inspiration for the "Six Flags over Texas" cooking class.  I just found this cookbook and I actually read through it like a novel.  So many of the recipes are on my list to try, but yesterday I finally made the S'more Cupcakes for our church small group.  They tasted great (almost like chocolate pie) with the graham cracker base, chocolate-chocolate chip cake and homemade marshmallow frosting that you toast on top.  We enjoyed them with homemade vanilla ice cream!  This is a must-try for chocolate lovers.

S,mores Cupcakes

Graham Cracker Base
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon salt

Chocolate Cupcakes
1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter
1/2 cup high-quality unsweetened cocoa
3/4 cup brewed coffee
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flower
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 (12 ounce) bag of Ghiradelli large milk chocolate chips

Marshmallow Topping
8 large egg whites
1 1/2 cups sugar

TO MAKE THE GRAHAM CRACKER BASE:  In a bowl, stir together the crumbs, the 1 cup melted butter and the 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Set Aside  **I had to make another half batch of this to make enough for all the cupcake batter.

TO MAKE THE CUPCAKES:  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line Texas or standard-size cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners.  For the crust, press the graham crackers base into the bottow of each well: about 3 teaspoons for a Texas-size cupcake; about 2 tablespoon for a standard size cup.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the cocoa and whisk until smooth.  Add the coffee and whisk until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Pour into mixing bowl.  Add the 2 cups sgar, buttermilk, eggs and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.  Add the flour, baking soda and 1/4 teaspoon salt and whisk until incorporated/  Stir in chocolate chips.

Evenly divide the batter to fill each cup to the top of the muffin papers.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cupcakes feel firm when lightly pressed in their center, 20- 25 minutes. Cool for at least 30 minutes before icing.

TO MAKE THE MARSHMALLOW TOPPING:  Set a large, perfectly clean metal or pyrex bowl over a pot filled with 2 inches of lightly simmering water.  Add the egg whites and 1 1/2 cups sugar and heat, whisking constantly, until the sugar melts and there are no visible sugar grains in the meringue.  (Rub a little bit between your fingers to make sure all the sugar has melted).  It doesn't take long.  Remove the meringue form the heat and beat it with an electic mixer on high speed until the meringue is stiff and shiny, about 5 minutes.

TO ASSEMBLE THE CUPCAKES:  Spoon the marshmallow topping into a pastry bag fitted with an open star tip.  Pipe the topping onto each cupcake in a circular motion, starting at the outside and working toward the center piling in high in the center.  Or pile the topping on the top of the cupcake, swirling the center into a peak with your fingers. 

Using a kitchen torch, brown the marshmallow by moving the flame slowly around the cupcake.  You can brown the cupcakes under a broiler just be VERY careful.  Watch the cupcakes closely, as they can go from browned to burnt in seconds.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blackberry Honey

Blackberry Picking

In June, I took the kids blackberry picking at a local blackberry farm.  It was fun but hot in the afternoon sun.  The problem with picking blackberries is that not everyone likes the seeds.  We usually pick blueberries too and all the kids like those, eating most of them before we get home.  I love blackberries and so does my oldest, but little children may find the seeds unpleasant.  So, even though there are numerous recipes that use up those yummy blackberries like pies and cobblers, consider this recipe for blackberry honey. 

Remember, patience is a the bucket not in your mouth!

You actually cook the blackberries with the honey and strain them through a sieve.  The kids will love this concoction spread on toast for breakfast.  It is also delicious over pancakes or waffles. This recipe makes enough to fill one 2 cup wide-mouth Ball jar. 

If you want to store the honey long term, you can certainly follow all the steps to canning jams, like sterilizing the jars, lids and seals and sealing the jars in boiling water. I find that a single jar will keep in the refridgerator for several weeks without all the fuss and it doesn't last that long anyway.  Make some yeast biscuits to go with the honey and it might not even last that long.

Blackberry Honey

Blackberry Honey Recipe

2 pints fresh blackberries
2 cups honey
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon cinnamon

In large saucepan, combine blackberries and honey. Crush slightly. Let stand 20 minutes to release juices. Add lemon juice and cinnamon. Bring mixture to a boil over medium heat and cook 10-15 minutes or until thick.

For younger kids, strain the contents through a sieve.  Ladle into hot sterilized jars. (I run the jars, lids and seals through the dishwasher on high heat.)   If you want to store in pantry, process according to manufacturer's directions.  If not, honey will keep in refrigerator for several weeks.  Makes 2 cups which will fill 1 wide-mouth Ball jar.

Monday, July 19, 2010

No Time for Posts!

Puerto Vallerta

Thought I would share the reasons for my lack of posts in June.  First, a family vacation to Mexico, which no decriptions will do justice.  The pools were so fun...I want this one in my backyard (palm trees, hut and drink service included).  What do you think?

The kids loved swimming with the dolphins and sea lions. OK, even the adults had a great time!

Alexandra had to put her hands on that sweet, slick face
(even though they recommended no hands). 
We will just call her the "dolphin whisperer"

Sam getting double attention from the sea lions.  Boy, those whiskers are ticklish.

Cameron kissing a dolphin.  It's hard not to smile. :)

But, of course, delicious food was part of the vacation (even in the pool). Plenty of inspiration with every meal...

But as you can see, summer fun didn't end with vacation. We have been celebrating holidays, visiting libraries and museums, reading books, swimming at the pool, going to movies, grilling out and generally having a relaxing time. Throw in a few cooking camps and you can see why the blog has been sitting idly by without any exciting summer posts.

Can you forgive me?  I have been saving up all my ideas.  Coming soon, we went blackberry picking and I have a tasty recipe for blackberry honey.  We've also made some homemade popsicles, fried our own corndogs and tried out a chocolate mousse icebox pie.  So, come back and visit soon.  There is still plenty of summer left to enjoy and I look forward to sharing the rest of ours with you!