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December 31, 2008

White Christmas Cupcakes w/White Chocolate Frosting

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Recipe courtesy of the Cupcake Deck

These cupcakes will make any day feel like it's a white Christmas. Egg whites make this cupcake light & airy. The addition of the almond extract brought memories of a Chinese bakery food.... still can't pinpoint it though... if anyone can tell me what this cake reminds them of, please let me know.

Makes 12

ingredients (all at room temp.):
1 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
6 tbs. butter
3/4 cup sugar
(the recipe called for 1 cup but i used less cause of the frosting)
3 large egg whites

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tin with paper liners.
Sift flour, baking powder & salt and set aside. In a small bowl stir the milk & extracts together and set aside.

In a large bowl, using and electric mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed, cream the butter & sugar, about 3 minutes. Then on low speed, add the flour mixture in three additons and the milk in 3, beginning & ending with the flour. Mix until the flour is incorporated. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat the egg whites with clean beaters on medium speed until foamy for about 30 seconds. Then beat on high speed until they became shiny & smooth. The eggs whites should cling to the beaters. Stir about 1/3 of the egg whites into the cake batter. Then fold in the remaining eggs just until blended.

Spoon batter into liners to about 1/4 inch below the top of liner. Bake about 20 minutes. Cool in pan for 10 minutes then remove cakes from pan and let cool completely on wire rack.

Frosted with White Chocolate Frosting & decorated with traditional holiday colors.... red & green.

White Chocolate Frosting
3 ounces of white chocolate, melted
1/4 cup butter
4 ounces cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
Beat chocolate, butter, cream cheese and vanilla until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar, mixing until the frosting is smooth, about 1 minute. Spread 2 tablespoons of frosting on each cupcake.

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December 26, 2008

Chocolate Cupcakes with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

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ATTENTION CHOCOLATE LOVERS: Eaten without the frosting these chocolate cupcakes are very light & moist. They are just right. Frost with chocolate buttercream (recipe follows) & decorate with chocolate chips, and then they are to die for!

Makes 18

ingredients:
1 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs @ room temp.
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup water

Melt chocolate in double boiler over simmering water, on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Stir occasionally until completely smooth and no pieces of chocolate remain. Remove from heat, cool to lukewarm, about 5-10 min. You know something good is about to happen when theres a bowl of melted chocolate on the counter.

Preheat oven to 350ยบ. Line muffin pan with papers liners.
Sift flour, baking soda , baking powder and salt, set aside.

On medium speed, cream butter and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add chocolate. Add in eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add in vanilla and beat until mixture looks creamy, about 1 minute. Mix in the sour cream until no white streaks remain. On low speed, add half the flour mixture, mixing just to incorporate. Mix in the water. Mix in remaining flour until it is incorporated and the batter looks smooth. Using spatula, scrape down bowl so ingredients are well-blended and the batter is smooth.

Carefully spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter into cupcake liners, filling 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes. Cool in pans for 15 minutes. Remove & cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting
1 cups butter, softened
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate
1 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/8 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter until light and fluffy, about 5 min. Melt chocolate in microwave or double boiler. Let it cool for about 15-20 min., then add to creamed butter, mix on low speed until just combined. Scrape sides of bowl. Add sugar, milk, vanilla. Using low speed, mix until fully combined; no confectioners' sugar should be visible; it should be smooth, & medium brown in color. Do not refrigerate; use immediately or store in airtight container up to 2 days.

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December 25, 2008

Super Easy Coconut Macaroons

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Recipe Courtesy of:


By far, the easiest of all the Xmas Cookies I made. Crunchy on the outside, sweet & moist on the inside. This was a favorite to make, as well as to eat. Next time, I'm going to double the recipe, cause I only came out with two dozen and i ate 3 of them out of the oven.

Ingredients:
3 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 package (14 ounces) sweetened flaked coconut (5 1/3 cups)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper (or coat generously with nonstick cooking spray). In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites, sugar, and salt until frothy.


With a fork, stir in coconut until moistened. Drop mixture by packed level tablespoons onto prepared sheet (cookies will not spread). I used a cookie scoop to make nice mounds. Bake until lightly golden, 25 to 30 minutes.

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December 23, 2008

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing

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Recipe courtesy of Alton Brown

Here's another EASY recipe from my Christmas Cookie Collection.

3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon milk
Powdered sugar, for rolling out dough

Directions
Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Place butter and sugar in large bowl of electric stand mixer and beat until light in color. Add egg and milk and beat to combine. Put mixer on low speed, gradually add flour, and beat until mixture pulls away from the side of the bowl. Divide the dough in half, wrap in waxed paper, and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Sprinkle surface where you will roll out dough with powdered sugar. Remove 1 wrapped pack of dough from refrigerator at a time, sprinkle rolling pin with powdered sugar, and roll out dough to 1/4-inch thick. Move the dough around and check underneath frequently to make sure it is not sticking. If dough has warmed during rolling, place cold cookie sheet on top for 10 minutes to chill. Cut into desired shape, place at least 1-inch apart on greased baking sheet, parchment, or silicone baking mat. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until cookies are just beginning to turn brown around the edges, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking time.


Let sit on baking sheet for 2 minutes after removal from oven and then move to complete cooling on wire rack. Serve as is or ice as desired.

Royal Icing
2 large egg whites or 5 tablespoons meringue powder
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted

Beat the egg whites with the lemon juice or extract until frothy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, smooth, and shiny. Turn to high and beat approximately 5 minutes till stiff and glossy. I transferred the icing to a plastic bag, snipped off one end and spread it onto the cookies & decorated with lil sugar candies.

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December 21, 2008

Buttery Spritz Cookies

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As promised here, this is the recipe for the Butter Cookies. I used the tree press, hence the Spritz name. Using a cookie press was harder than I thought. I had to constantly re-refrigerate the dough when it wouldnt release from the press because the dough was getting too sticky. If I had to do this again... i think i might have to invest in a better press... but the cookies came out yummy and the recipe is so easy & simple!!!

Makes: about 5 dozen
Prep: 15 min
Bake: 10-12 min per batch

2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Decoration: red and green sugar; multicolored sprinkles

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Have a cookie press and baking sheet(s) lined with parchment ready.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer on high speed 5 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and salt; beat until blended. On low speed, gradually beat in flour.

3. Following manufacturer's instructions, place dough into cookie press and press out cookies about 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Decorate cookies with red and green sugar or multicolored sprinkles.

4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden. Transfer with a broad spatula to wire racks to cool completely.

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December 20, 2008

Christmas Cookies

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It's been two long years since I had my annual Xmas Cookie Bakefest! Today was the day that came to an end. After 7 hours, in all corners of the kitchen, there were:

5 dozen chocolate chip cookies

I used the Original Toll House recipe

3 dozen chewy molasses cookies

Recipe previously provided

5 dozen sugar cookies


5 dozen butter cookies

Recipe to follow

2 dozen coconut macaroons

Recipe to follow
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December 12, 2008

Curry Laksa aka Curry Mee

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This is one of my favorite Malaysian dishes and now I can make it at home and so can you!

Laksa is a popular spicy noodle soup from Peranakan culture, which is a merger of Chinese and Malay elements found in Malaysia and Singapore. Curry laksa (in many places referred to simply as “laksa”) is a coconut-based curry soup. The main ingredients for most versions of curry laksa include tofu puffs, fish sticks, & shrimp (or chicken).

You will need:

One package of Curry Laksa Paste

available at most Asian markets

1/2 to 3/4 cup (depending on how creamy you like it)
Coconut Milk


- egg noodles and/or "mai fun" noodles
and whatever fillings you like. I used:
- fried tofu puffs
- fishballs
- grilled shrimp
- hard boiled eggs
- bean sprouts
- scallions for garnish

How to:
Bring to a boil the paste and 5-6 cups of water (10-15 minutes). Add in coconut milk and simmer (5 minutes). Throw all your fillings into the soup and simmer (5 more minutes).


In a seperate pot, bring your noodles to a boil. Strain and place in a bowl.
Scoop in fillings. some of the soup and serve! Serves 4-6.
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December 11, 2008

Freezing Cookies & Cookie Dough

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Here are some more tips when it comes to baking lots of cookies (which I plan to do this weekend). Stay tuned for my Holiday Cookie Collection!

by Rachel Paxton - rachel@Organized-Mom.com

If you're looking ahead to the holiday season and wondering how you're going to get all your baking done, consider freezing your cookie dough or fresh baked cookies ahead of time. When the holidays get closer you can get that last bit of shopping done or last present made instead of spending all your time in the kitchen.

Freezing Cookie Dough
Cookie dough will freeze well for 4 to 6 weeks. Rolls of dough should be sealed tightly in plastic wrap (chill in refrigerator first before freezing). Other kinds of dough should be stored in airtight containers. Drop cookies (unbaked) may be frozen on cookie sheets and transferred to freezer bags. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes before baking.

Don't try to freeze soft meringue-type cookie dough. Chocolate chip, brownies, peanut butter, and sugar cookie dough (or anything similar) freezes well. Let the dough defrost in the refrigerator (about 2-3 hours). Make sure to label the container with the date and type of cookie dough.

Freezing Baked Cookies
Almost any baked cookie freezes well. Let cookies completely cool before freezing. Wrap cookies individually in plastic wrap then store them in a ziploc freezer bag or storage tin (coffee cans or holiday tins work great). You can also just layer the cookies between layers of waxed paper in the container, but the individually wrapped ones will store longer.

Freeze frosted cookies uncovered first until they are firm. Then pack them in airtight container lined with plastic wrap or foil. Make sure to label the container with the date and type of cookies. Unfrosted cookies can be frozen up to 6-12 months (frosted, about 3 months). Frozen cookies thaw in about 10 minutes at room temperature (if you can wait that long). If cookies should be crisp when thawed, remove them from the container before thawing.
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December 10, 2008

Storing Cookies

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With the Holidays around the corner, I will be making my cookies in batches. I dont really have the time right now for one of my 11-12 hour bake-a-thons. And with making batches, i'm going to need to store them. Here's a tip:

Freshly made cookies need to be cooled completely before storing in airtight containers or the cookies will become soft from the steam they produce while they are still warm. For frosted cookies, always let the frosting dry completely before storing or the cookies will stick together. It is best to store filled and frosted cookies in a single layer or between layers of parchment or wax paper. Always store each type of cookie separately. If you store different flavored and textured cookies together they will end up taking on the characteristics of each other i.e., a dry crisp textured cookie stored with a soft textured cookie will absorb its moisture and become soft. Likewise, a shortbread stored with a spice cookie will end up tasting like a spice cookie.
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December 08, 2008

Red Velvet Cupcakes- Take 2

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Most of the recipes I found are for CAKES. These recipes usually yield three 9x2 inch round cake pans or 24 cupcakes. Below you will find the recipe using HALF the ingredients, with the exception of the eggs. It's too much work for me to split 3 eggs, so i used 2. This batter makes exactly 12 cupcakes.

Recipe from Magnolia's Bakery

1 3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 tablespoons red food coloring
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoons salt
5 ounces buttermilk
3/4 teaspoons cider vinegar
3/4 teaspoons baking soda

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners.


In a small bowl, sift the cake flour & cocoa and set aside. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a measuring cup, stir the salt & vanilla into the buttermilk. Add to the batter in three parts alternating with the flour. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated, but do not overbeat. In a small bowl, stir together the cider vinegar and baking soda. Add to the batter and mix well. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well blended and the batter is smooth. Divide the batter among the prepared pans.



For round cake pans: bake for 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

For cupcakes: bake for 20-25 minutes.


Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes. Remove from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack, then frost, if desired.




THE VERDICT: Before I removed them from the oven, I noticed immediately that these cupcakes rose higher than the ones in Test 1. The taste: exactly the same as the first, maybe slightly sweeter. The texture: light and fluffy as well but a little bit more dense when you bite into it. This cupcake held up better as you ate it, whereas the first one was so fluffy that it fell apart, leaving crumbs everywhere.




So now what? I'm still not happy. I love the texture of this one which means I will be making them with butter instead of oil.... but something is missing when it comes to the TASTE. The hunt goes on.... to be continued...
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December 03, 2008

sugar... sugar.... sugar

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Here's some info that I found very helpful when I was wondering what was the difference between granulated sugar & "baker's sugar."

Sugar vs powdered sugar vs superfine sugar
Plain sugar is a granulated sweetener that comes in fine crystals, about the size and shape of salt crystals. There are different degrees of fineness for sugars and they all have different uses.

Superfine sugar is regular (granulated) sugar that has been ground more finely. It is sometimes sold as baker's sugar and is also known as castor sugar. It can be used as a substitute for regular sugar and may produce a slightly finer crumb(texture) in the finished product than regular sugar would, a result that is preferred by many bakers. Regular sugar, however, should not be substituted in the same way. Superfine sugar is almost always called for in recipes that are very light, like meringues and angel food cakes. It contributes to a light, delicate final product because the small grains dissolve into the mixture very quickly, while a coarser crystal might not be incorporated as fully or as quickly. You can make superfine sugar yourself by putting coarser sugar into the food processor and whizzing it around several times to break up larger crystals.

Powdered sugar, or confectioners' sugar, has been completely pulverized into a very fine powder and often has a small amount of cornstarch added to it to keep it from clumping together. It is much finer even than superfine sugar, so it dissolves almost instantly into a mixture. This makes it perfect for making glazes and frostings smooth and sweet. It is also used in some recipes, particularly those where a melt-in-your-mouth texture is desired in the final product, like shortbread. It cannot be substituted with either regular sugar or superfine sugar.
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December 02, 2008

Rice Pudding

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So rich & creamy. This is my dad's recipe. Everytime he made it, he had to make me my own because I dont like raisins. He finally gave it up so now I can make it myself.

ingredients:
5 cups of whole milk
3/4 cup of white rice (uncooked)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup pure vanilla extract (you can use less)
2 egg yolks (tempered*)
3/4 cup of raisins (optional)
1 cup of half & half or heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
cinnamon for garnish

Bring whole milk, rice & salt to a boil. Then simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in sugar, vanilla and egg yolks. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Take off the stove & stir in (the optional raisins) half & half or heavy cream and butter. Sprinkle on some cinnamon. Cool then refrigerate.

* TEMPERING: The technique used to blend uncooked eggs into hot liquid or sauce. Eggs are beaten and a little of the hot mixture is stirred into them to warm (temper) them. Tempering slowly raises the temperature of an egg, without curdling it and without heating it through conventional methods. This prevents the eggs from scrambling or the milk from curdling when the hot liquid is introduced.


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December 01, 2008

Cream Cheese Frosting

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I love whipped cream cheese frosting, but for Red Velvet Cupcakes I thought it would be nice to try out "real" cream cheese frosting. This recipe makes enough frosting for one dozen cupcakes. For all my cupcakes, I will be practicing my 1M Swirls.... instructions can be found here.




Recipe adapted from several sources

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter room temperature
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.


THE VERDICT: Talk about a sugar high! Would you expect anything less when the main ingredient is powdered sugar? TOTALLY SWEET!
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