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Posts tagged ‘strawberry’

Summertime on Cloud Nine

Let’s play a game.

It’s called “Where Is This Blog Post Being Written?”

Here are the rules:

Guess where this blog post is being written. Complicated.

Don’t cheat. (If you do, that just means you’re a creepy stalker. I don’t think you want to live with that.)

I think you’ll do fine.

So, here goes.

I have a (free) mimosa in my hand.

Tiny ear buds are humming Frank Sinatra’s voice into my head.

I’m in a pretty comfortable leather seat.

I’m looking at tiny blips of white surrounded by large areas of green and brown thousands of miles beneath me.

There’s also a layer of mashed potatoes underneath me.

Not too far behind me is a small child, who initially decided to scream its head off, but then (smartly) ceased.

Where am I?

In the air!

If you guessed anything but an airplane, I’d like to know your answer and then pick at your brain.

I’m well on my way to Seattle, Washington to visit one of my very best friends in the world. Yay!

I feel like I’m on Cloud Nine right now. The past week at work was not only tolerable, but I generally had a good time. What?! Cray. I know.

Last night I was lucky enough to enjoy a late-night after-work IHOP run with my darling boyfriend. I (shamelessly) scarfed down some blueberry pancakes. I was also told I have giant eyes. Whatever that means.

I woke up this morning, got dressed, put my face on, had a nice little conversation with a coworker, and headed to the airport. Did I mention I’m flying First Class?

Yeah, I’m flying First Class. I’ve never done it. The best part so far, aside from the complimentary mimosas the stewardess is throwing at me, is the line cutting! Mwahaha. I must have saved about an hour of waiting because of this “First Class” status.

When things like this excite me, does that mean I’m getting old? I mean, first I’m overly stoked about my new car having amazing gas mileage, and now I’m excited about short lines?

Stewardess! I need another mimosa. This is too much to handle. I’m not old…yet.

 

Speaking of getting old, my birthday is soon. Which, ehh, I’m not overly excited about. But it does make me think back to when I was a kid. Sleepovers, Back-to-School Nights, Poptarts for breakfast…ahh to be a child.

One thing I vividly remember as a child, is lemonade stands. My next-door neighbor and childhood BFF, Jessica, and I used to have one every year. I mean EVERY year. Tradition. It always seemed to be right after the gardeners overly trimmed the trees. I’m sure the majority of our sales came from our parents and other close neighbors, but it didn’t matter. It was fun. We were fun. We were cool kids.

Some smartypants friend of mine suggest Pink Lemonade Cupcakes to me a few weeks ago. GENIUS!

The cake has a slightly tart taste, and paired with the cream cheese frosting (infused with lemon-lime soda) and you’ve got yourself a lemonade stand in a cupcake wrapper. That can’t possibly be wrong, right?

Enjoy, my fellow childhood lemonade-standers. Reflect on the goofy memories. Smile.

In the meantime, I’ll be frolicking in Seattle, being fabulous as I take a huge bite of a much-anticipated Trophy Cupcake and laughing over God knows what with an amazing friend. “She’s good for your soul,” says my mom. I must agree.

MAKE THESE CUPCAKES!

Pink Lemonade Cupcakes

3 cups all-purpose flour minus 6 tbsp
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 cup butter
1 tbsp vanilla
2 whole eggs
1/4 cup milk
pinch of salt
1/2 cup cream cheese
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp baking soda
1/2 cup sweetened instant pink lemonade

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with cupcake wrappers.

2. Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and instant lemonade in a small bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat butter until fluffy and pale.

4. Add sugar and beat until smooth.

5. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

6. Add vanilla and strawberry cream cheese. Beat well.

7. Alternately add milk and flour mixture, beating well between each addition.

8. Bake for about 20 minutes and let cool before frosting.

Lemon-Lime Cream Cheese Frosting

2 8oz packages cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup lemon-lime soda
5-6 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp lemon juice

1. Beat cream cheese and butter until smooth.

2. Add vanilla and beat until well-combined.

3. Add sugar, 1 cup at a time, until completely blended.

4. Add soda and lemon juice and beat until just combined.

5. Allow the frosting to set. It will initially be runny.

6. Frost them cupcakes! Then shamelessly shove it in your mouth.

For instructions on how to candy the lemons, see this recipe for Grapefruit Cupcakes and you’ll be all set. 🙂

Like what you see? Check out the Pink Cake Party Kit over at Event Blossom!

I think they complement these little beauties quite well. 😉

Bon appétit!

Girls just wanna have…Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes!

I love wearing high heels. Something about them makes me feel more…womanly…and girly…all at the same time. If the opportunity presents itself, you can bet that I’ll be sliding on 4 1/2 inch heels in some obnoxious color. My favorites? A ridiculously gaudy pair — glittery pink, with a chrome-looking heel and base.

There’s also a big obnoxious glittery pink bow.

I. Love. These. Shoes.

Seriously. It might be an issue. (An..Ish-shoe..if you will…*badum tish*)

Allow me to inform you that I’m not the girliest girl out there. I’ll choose my favorite pair of black jeans before ever even glancing at a skirt. Eight times out of ten, you’ll see me in flip-flops and a tank top. Oh, and a cardigan. I can’t possibly talk about my wardrobe without at least one mention of a cardigan.

What am I getting at? I’m glad you asked!

Sometimes, regardless of what kind of girl you are — sporty, punk, all-American, indie, sexpot, trendy, goth, hobo, dirty, closet-blind — there is a little voice inside all of us that craves a spark of girly-ness.

It’s fun, and you know it. (I’m talking to you, hobo-dresser!) Embrace it.

Barbie was never my doll of choice. Some chick-flicks bore the crapola out of me. I can’t even fathom the thought of pulling a Paris Hilton and carrying a tiny dog in my purse. Pink? Yeah, not my favorite color. But there is no denying the inner diva that lurks somewhere between category “Converse All-Stars” and category “Prom Dress.” She loves high heels and dresses. And I love her for loving them.

It’s this diva that reminds me why I love being a girl. Cyndi Lauper was on the right track…yes, we do just wanna have fun. But don’t forget, Ms. Lauper, that we also want to kick butt at work, nab a prince charming, and invent a way to eat a chocolate cake without having to yank and squeeze our way into skinny jeans…all while looking fab.u.lous. *snaps*

Okay, so maybe I got a little too girls-rule-and-boys-drool there. But I mean it! (Maybe minus the snap…that was a little embarrassing.)

That same diva wants me to me introduce you to this very feminine Strawberry Shortcake Cupcake. She’s beautiful on the outside — an airy strawberry buttercream on top of a yellow butter cake. And of course, a dollop of whipped cream. When you bite into her, she surprises you with…what? Oh yeah, strawberry jam! BOOM BABY.

Girls rule. Boys don’t really drool. Well some of them might…and I highly suggest you stay away from them.

Strawberry Shortcake Cupcakes

2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/4 packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
4 eggs
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp butter flavoring

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake papers.

2. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.

3. Beat butter on high until smooth and pale.

4. Add granulated sugar and beat until fluffy.

5. Add brown sugar, beat until combined.

6. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition. Add vanilla.

7. Alternately, add the milk and the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beating until just combined between each addition.

8. Add butter flavoring and beat until incorporated.

9. Fill cups 1/2 full and bake for 18-20 minutes.

Strawberry Buttercream

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 cups strawberries (measure strawberries before you puree)
1 tsp vanilla

1. Puree strawberries using a food processor or blender. Strain berries so there are no seeds.

2. Beat butter until pale.

3. Add one cup of sugar at a time, being sure to combine well between each addition.

4. Add vanilla and strawberries. Beat well.

If the consistency is not to your liking, add more sugar

5. Let set in the refrigerator for about 10 minutes.

Filling the cupcakes

1. Using a cupcake corer or small knife, cut a hole into the center of each cupcake.

2. Place jam in a pastry bag (for more control, and also, it’s neater) and fill each cupcake until jam is just below the surface.

P.S. Be sure and check out Kim’s latest post about the Girl Baby Shower Party Kits which you may purchase by clicking HERE! Aww, so sweet! (pun intended)

Bon appétit!

Eurotrip, via cupcakes.

Let’s take a vacation.

Seriously.

To Europe.

It’ll be fun!

We’ll start in Rome and see the Colosseum, visit the good ol’ Pope at the Vatican, and throw a couple coins in the Trevi Fountain while we wish for an amazing dinner in…

Naples! Where we will obviously stuff our faces with the best pizza made on this Earth, drink really good wine and chat with the locals.

I hope you speak Italian…I know “buongiorno” “ciao” and “grazie.” That won’t get us very far. I’m 100% positive we’d get that “dumb American” look from locals if all we said was “hello” “goodbye” and “thank you” with that eager “excited” look on our faces.

We’ll stop in Venice for a gondola ride and have an Italian man sing to us while we, once again, drink really good wine, eat some amazingly fresh pasta, and finish the evening with either a cannoli or gelato (or both, duh.)

We’ll throw Florence in there too, because, well, it’s Florence and it’s beautiful. Must I justify it? Didn’t think so.

Our next stop will be in Ireland, where we’ll see landscapes greener than Kermit the Frog, and tour giant, beautiful castles. We’ll have a debate about how the interior of our future vacation-home castles will look — keep the stone walls or have an unexpected switch to a modern feel? (Hey, it could happen!)

Not too far from us will be Dublin, where we’ll spend the evening visiting pubs and engaging in Irish debauchery. They’re crazy. It’ll be a bloody good time, you see.

Clearly we’ll have to visit Spain. We can’t pass up the opportunity to see that incredible architecture! We’ll see flamenco shows, run with some bulls, and eat flan and churros until we pass out. ¡Ay dios mio!

Next stop, London! Museums, museums, museums! We’ll get super cultured and by the time we get back to the states we’ll be able to be snobs about it. “Oh, well, whenever I go to London I must visit the British Museum to see the Egyptian antiquities. The trip is simply incomplete without it!”

And finally, we’ll bring our trip to a close in Paris, France. Ahh, Paris. What better way to conclude than in the City of Lights? We’ll visit the Louvre, have a picnic by the Eiffel Tower, play hide-and-seek at Notre Dame, stroll the Palace of Versailles, enjoy a cabaret show at le Moulin Rouge and take a sip of water from a few of the Wallace Fountains.

But of course, the most important part of the Paris trip – dessert.

Um, duh.

Chocolate soufflés, creme brûlée, cream puffs, eclairs, macarons, tarts, chocolate pots de creme, and crepes. And don’t you dare forget breakfast! Fresh croissants, pain au chocolat, and the best brioche our tastebuds will ever enjoy.

All of the above will be devoured at a fancy little table outside a French bistro, accompanied by cafe au lait, schmoozie French music, and lots of laughter.

Okay, so, when do we leave? Now? Cool. I’m already packed. (I knew you’d come with me!)

Until our plane leaves, though, maybe we can have these cupcakes to hold us over.

French Fruit Tart cupcakes, that is. Ooh la la!

Trying to come up with a way to make these a reality was a bit of a challenge, but man oh man, they definitely work.

It’s an almond cake filled with custard (which, by the way, is infused with Grand Marnier), topped with strawberries, kiwi, and an apricot glaze. Talk about de. lish. us.

Oh, and homemade whipped cream…which is always a winner.

OH, and a blueberry. Which really doesn’t have that much significance, but really helps with the aesthetics. 🙂

OHH!        …just kidding, I don’t really have anything else to add.

And of course, the cupcakes look magnifique in the Parisian Party themed cupcake wrappers from Event Blossom! I love these, especially the striped one. Make sure to check out Kim’s blog for more info on how to use these fun kits!

Très chic, oui?

French Fruit Tart Cupcakes

Almond Cupcake

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 pinches of salt
1 “shake” grond nutmeg (when I say “shake” I mean out of the container. No measuring. It’s just to enhance the almond flavor)
3 eggs
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tbsp almond extract

1. Set oven to 350 degrees and line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and nutmeg together until evenly combined. Set aside.

3. On medium-high speed, beat butter and sugar until fluffy and pale yellow.

4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just incorporated.

5. Add vanilla and sour cream and beat until combined. Continue beating mixture on high for an additional 20 seconds.

6. Alternately, add flour mixture and milk until all ingredients are well combined.

7. Fill cupcake liners 3/4 full, and bake for 18 minutes. Cool completely.

Custard

3 egg yolks
1 1/4 cups milk (any kind – I used 1%)
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 heaping tbsp flour
2 tbsp corn starch
1 tbsp Grand Marnier

1. Whisk egg yolks and sugar together in a medium heatproof bowl.

2. Sift the flour and cornstarch together and add to egg mixture. This will form a thick paste that looks questionable but will ultimately taste delicious, don’t worry.

3. Heat milk and vanilla in a saucepan. Once the milk comes to a light boil, remove from the heat and slowly add it to the egg mixture. Whisk constantly to avoid curdling. Add liqueur and mix until combined.

Now, be a smart cookie and strain the custard NOW, not later. I was a dummy and didn’t do it until later…which let me tell you, is annoying and takes for-freaking-ever!)

4. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat until it begins to boil, whisking constantly. Once it reaches a boil, continue to whisk until it thickens.

5. Remove the custard from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature. You may store this overnight in the refrigerator if you don’t plan on using it right away.

Apricot Glaze

1/2 cup apricot jam
1 tbsp water

1. In a small saucepan, heat jam and water over medium heat until it melts.

2. Pour the glaze through a strainer to get rid of any chunks.

Whipped Cream

2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 heaping tbsp sugar
1 tbsp vanilla

1. Beat cream on high until soft peaks form.
2. Add sugar, beat on high until it starts to become stiff.
3. Add vanilla, beat for another 30 seconds.

BAM. Whipped cream.

That was all pretty simple, right? Now on to the assembly…

The assembly…

With either a cupcake corer or a small knife, cut a hole in the center of the cupcakes. Put the custard in a pastry bag (a ziplock bag will work fine, too) and put a small amount in each, stopping when you feel resistance.

Using a pastry brush, lightly coat the top of each filled cupcake.

Cut strawberries and kiwi into thin slices. Place them on the cupcake in any which way you desire. Coat the fruit with the glaze. Top with whipped cream and that blueberry I mentioned earlier!

Bon appétit!

Sundae Cupcakes, on Monday

I don’t know about you, my fellow Southern Californians, but I’m pretty tired of this cold weather.  Summer is still months away, but I’m longing for the sun, the beach, driving with the top down, and those warm summer nights that you wish could last forever.  It’s not a secret – I love summertime in California.  But alas, it’s February and there are still several months acting as a barrier between me and this beloved season.

But never fear – Sugar Therapy is here.  After all, this is “therapy”, and I have a [temporary] solution!  What food reminds me of summer?   Ice cream, of course!  And not much beats an ice cream sundae when it comes to summertime desserts.  Obviously it’s too cold for that, so I improvised and made cupcakes instead.  This was a complete success, and the prescription totally hit the spot!

I knew I wanted to make a marble cake, but not with vanilla and chocolate – too boring!  So I set my mind on a strawberry and chocolate combination.  Good strawberry cake is hard to come by, and to be quite frank, they can be kind of gross.  But this recipe is made with real strawberries, and doesn’t taste “box-mixish” or artificial.  It tastes…good! What a concept.  And with the chocolate?  Oh, my.  Wait, I’m not done.  It’s topped with vanilla buttercream, chocolate ganache, sprinkles, and a maraschino cherry.  It’s…um…so…good….I…love…

Oh, sorry.  I fell into a cupcake coma.

This was quite an adventure.  I’ll explain more in the recipe portion of the post, but oy vey.

First, I couldn’t find a strawberry cupcake recipe that didn’t include strawberry gelatin!  For anyone who doesn’t know me, I can’t eat gelatin because I’m vegetarian.  But after a lot of searching, I found a recipe that used real strawberries!  That was doubly awesome because it just so happened that I already had strawberries in my refrigerator!  For the chocolate cake, I had read that Hershey’s recipe is amazing but I always hesitated because it’s Hershey’s…I mean come on, it sounds pretty ordinary to me.  Well it turns out it’s as good as people say it is, and I have found my go-to simple chocolate cake recipe.  🙂

You know when you notice you’re almost out of something (i.e. shampoo, milk, laundry detergent) and tell yourself that you need to pick some up, and then totally forget about it, but don’t realize it until you need it next?  Well, yeah.  That happened to me with vanilla.  Vanilla?!  I’m almost ashamed to say that.  That’s my favorite ingredient, and I ran out!  This was an interesting discovery when I was making the buttercream.  I had plenty for the first batch, but when I realized I needed more icing, I had to quickly find a replacement.  Incase you didn’t know, nothing compares to vanilla!  *sigh* But you know what (sort of) has a similar flavor?  Maple syrup.  It worked out, to say the least.

I’ll stop babbling and let you read the recipes and look at the pictures.  There are a lot of pictures.  I couldn’t choose just a few!

Ice Cream Sundae Cupcakes
Hand me a spoon, please. 😉

Cake #1: Pretty in Pink (strawberry) Cupcakes
(from Bake and Destroy)

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
2 egg whites
1/3 cup fresh pureed strawberries
2/3 cup buttermilk

I also added slightly less than 1/4 cup of vanilla pudding to make it moist.

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a small bowl.
3. In a large bowl use an electric mixer to beat together sugar and butter until well combined.
4. Add egg white one at a time, beating well after each addition.
5. Add pureed strawberries, mixing well.
6. Alternately beat in flour mixture and buttermilk, making three additions of flour mixture and two of buttermilk, beating until just smooth.
7. Just for show, I added a little bit of pink food coloring.

Set the strawberry batter aside.

PAUSE. Um, pureed strawberries?  ‘Tis easy.  Worry not.
Hull the strawberries, cut them in half.
1 tbsp of granulated sugar.
1 tbsp of water

1. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend.
2. Strain the puree. Just like no one wants eggshells in cake, no one wants seeds in their cupcakes.

Go from this...

...to this!

Cake #2: Perfectly Chocolate Chocolate Cake
(from Hershey’s)

1 cup sugar
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup boiling water

Again, I added slightly less than 1/4 cup of  vanilla pudding.

1. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl.
2. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes.
3. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin).

Assembly

Okay, this part was pretty tricky.  I put each batter in its own Ziploc baggy (as if it was frosting) and cut off a very small portion of the corner. Turns out the recipe isn’t kidding, the chocolate batter is thin, and moves fast.  I really wanted more of a swirled effect, but I quickly learned that I was not the boss in this situation.  The chocolate batter told me what to do.  I squeezed batter into each cup, filling it about 1/2 full.

Next came the strawberry, which was much more manageable.  I just squeezed the batter right on top of the chocolate.  Without giving up my dream of a strawberry-chocolate swirl, I used a toothpick to mix it up…it didn’t really work.  Oh well.

Baking

Your oven is set to 350. Your cupcake pan is filled and looking pretty and pink (or swirled if you’re cooler than me).  It’s time to put those babies in the oven!  Bake for 20 minutes.  Let cool.

I made a mistake.  I filled my baking cups wayyy too full.  This is what happens when you fill your baking cups “wayyy” too full.

Overflowed.  Whoops.

But look at it from this angle:

Not too shabby!  Who knew it would bake that way.  I guess that chocolate cake recipe rises a lot more than the strawberry one.  Make note of that, and don’t fill the cups with as much chocolate batter as I did.  Luckily I was using my now cherished Wilton non-stick pan.  Phew.

This isn’t the most attractive picture, but it shows you what the cake looks like on the inside.  Look how moist it is, too!

Vanilla Buttercream
(Thank you, Martha Stewart)

6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
8 ounces confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp granulated sugar

1.Beat butter with a mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.

2. Reduce speed to medium. Add sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating after each addition, about 5 minutes. (After every 2 additions, increase speed to high, and beat for 10 seconds, then reduce speed to medium-high).

3. Add vanilla, brown sugar, and regular sugar. Beat until buttercream is smooth.

For my second batch of icing, I just swapped out the vanilla for maple syrup and used all the same ingredients and measurements.  It worked just fine, but you can bet your bottom dollar I’m going to buy some vanilla before next Monday.

Ganache
Last week I used Betty Crocker’s recipe for the cheesecake. This week, I used Martha’s recipe, but altered the measurements.  I didn’t need as much as that recipe called for.  Turns out that I like this ganache better than Betty’s. Stewart: 1 Crocker: 0

3 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tbsp light corn syrup

1. Place chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.

2. Gently stir the chocolate and cream until smooth and glossy.

The best part of making this cupcake was decorating it!  I drizzled the chocolate, sprinkled the sprinkles (I couldn’t think of another verb), and placed that beautiful little cherry on top.  After I put the first cherry on, was seriously overjoyed with how happy I was with the presentation.  It’s so cute!  Ahh I love it.

Did I mention I love how these look?

If you stuck it out and read the whole thing, pat yourself on the back, and make these cupcakes as a glorious reward.  Thanks for reading!  I’ll let the cupcakes wrap up this post.