Mudslide Cupcakes

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It’s been way too long since I last updated, so here’s an original recipe, just like Colonel Sanders would post!

A few weeks ago, a coworker asked me to make two dozen cupcakes for him to take home to his wife. He asked for one dozen kid-friendly and one dozen “adult”. We all know what “adult” means– booze or coffee. So I set out to combine the two. I Googled a few combos until I realized the answer lay in a frozen cocktail– The Mudslide. The Mudslide typically combines Vodka, Bailey’s, Kahlua, milk, ice and occasionally chocolate syrup together. I decided to skip the vodka in my cupcakes– the flavor of vodka never comes through– and focus more on the other flavors: Chocolate, coffee, Kahlua and Bailey’s. So without further, adieu, the recipe!

Mudslide Cupcakes

Makes roughly 18 cupcakes

Kahlua Ganache Filling:

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon Kahlua (or more, to taste)

Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Heat the heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed pan on the stove until it’s bubbling, but not full-on boiling. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let sit for a few minutes. Stir the chocolate and cream together until the mixture is smooth. Add the butter and the one teaspoon of Kahlua and stir until the butter is fully melted and incorporated. At this point, you can taste the filling to see if it is “Kahlua-y” enough for you. If not, feel free to add a little more, but do know that as the filling sits, the flavor will become slightly more pronounced. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge until cool.

Chocolate-Coffee Cupcakes:
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup brewed coffee, chilled
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line two muffin tins with 18 cupcake wrappers. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and cocoa in a large bowl and set it aside. In a small bowl, combine the coffee and vanilla, and set this bowl aside as well. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs to the butter and sugar one at a time, making sure the first egg is incorporated fully before adding the second. Stop and scrape down your bowl if needed. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with the coffee mixture, beating after each addition. Scrape the bowl, remove the paddle attachment, and fold in the chocolate chips. Fill each cupcake wrapper about 1/4 full. Bake for 18-22 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean. Be sure to check your cupcakes at the 18-minute mark for doneness as times can vary based on your oven. Once the cupcakes are done, allow them to fully cool before continuing to the next step.

Once the cupcakes are cool, use a small paring knife to remove a cone of cake from the center of each cupcake, making sure not to cut through the bottom of the cupcake. Remove the ganache from the fridge and give it a good whisk to loosen the mixture back up a bit. You want it to be about the consistency of thick frosting. Using a small spoon, place a dollop of ganache into each hollowed-out cupcake. You may very well have leftover ganache. Get creative with the leftovers. I imagine it would be very good heated up a bit and poured over ice cream.

Bailey’s Frosting:
16 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 cups (or more, if needed) powdered sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 tablespoon Bailey’s Irish Cream

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on low until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla extract and Bailey’s and bea to combine. If the frosting looks too runny, add more powdered sugar to achieve a good spreading consistency. Transfer the frosting to another bowl, cover it and put it in the fridge. Wash out the standing mixer bowl to make the Kahlua Frosting.

Kahlua Frosting:

6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 cups (or more, if needed) powdered sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
4 tablespoons Kahlua
3 tablespoons brewed coffee, chilled

In the bowl of a standing mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and powdered sugar on low until light and fluffy. Add the cocoa powder, Kahlua and coffee and beat to combine. If the frosting seems too runny, add enough powdered sugar to get it back to a good spreading consistency.

Now, you certainly can just spread the two frostings on your cupcakes with a butter knife or offset spatula and call it a day, but if you would like to swirl the frostings as I have, you will need a few things. I filled one small piping bag with the Bailey’s frosting and another with the Kahlua frosting without snipping the tip of either bag. I then fitted a larger bag with a piping tip. I then cut the tips off the smaller piping bags and put them side by side in the larger bag so that both ends were resting inside the piping tip. This requires a little patience and shifting, but it’s worth it in the end. Do a test pipe on a paper towel so you can be sure both frostings are coming out at once. Pipe the frostings onto your cupcakes.

I hope you enjoy these! My coworker liked them quite a bit and the extras were taken to my husband’s coworkers who were also impressed. The hidden Kahlua ganache is a nice surprise.

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Twinkie Cake

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Growing up, our kitchen cabinets never had less than two boxes of Little Debbie snack cakes. Both my father and I would take them in our lunches every day. So while I am well versed in Swiss Cake Rolls and Oatmeal Creme Pies and Zebra Cakes, I am less educated in the ways of the Twinkie.

I mean, I was always aware of the Twinkie– other kids brought them to school and I’m sure I tasted them here and there. I just was always more of a chocolate fan, especially when that chocolate had a hard glaze that gave a satisfying little snap when you bit through it.

As an adult, though, I’ve learned to embrace vanilla. It’s such a pure and clean taste. So when I saw Shauna Sever’s new book “Pure Vanilla: Irresistible Recipes and Essential Techniques, I knew I had to get moving on the recipes.

For the first test, I tackled the Twinkie Cake. It’s a fairly simple yellow bundt cake recipe that baked up easily and beautifully. Once baked, I got to get super handsy with the cake, cutting holes into it using the cone method, and then sticking my fingers into each hole to create a tunnel running through the center of the cake. Continue reading

Milk and Cookie Shooter

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By now, even my 87-year-old grandmother has heard of the Cronut, the croissant-dougnut hybrid brought to life by New York City baker Dominque Ansel. Well, a month or so ago, he was at it again, creating a Chocolate Chip Cookie Milk Shot, a shot glass made of chocolate chip cookie dough and filled with vanilla-infused milk. The idea is to sip the milk and eat the cookie bit by bit, as one might eat a taco salad or soup in a bread bowl.

The minute he heard about it, my husband wanted me to make it. Sometimes I get the impression he doesn’t realize how hard certain things are to create. Has he not seen the numerous Cookie Bowl Fails that litter the Internet? Cookie dough doesn’t necessarily want to hold a particular shape– it likes to spread and puff and do all sorts of other things that are great if you want a cookie form, but not so good if you want, say, a shot glass form.

Luckily, myriad food bloggers have taken it upon themselves to duplicate this sweet treat and the talented baker over at Wanna Come With? came up with a fantastic recipe and tutorial, which I used to create the confection in the above photo.

I didn’t tweak Wanna Come With?’s recipe at all, so I urge you to follow it if you want to create these yourself. I do recommend that whatever vessel you choose to use as a mold (Rum Baba molds worked very, very well for me), pick up at least four of them. I bought two and it took me FIVE HOURS to make 14 of these suckers. Save yourself some time and buy four.

The verdict from my husband? Well, to quote him directly, “Well, I don’t need to go get a real one because I can’t imagine it tastes any better than yours.”

Winter cocktails for the never-ending winter

It’s been one heck of a winter, huh? Spring has officially sprung (though I personally think March is still firmly winter), and parts of the country are still seeing snow showers and downright chilly temperatures. And nothing is better on a cold night than a roaring fireplace, a warm Corgi on your lap and a tasty, tasty cocktail.

Well, I have two out of the three at least. Sadly my new apartment did not come with a fireplace. New apartment, you ask? Why, yes! In January, an apartment in the neighborhood we have been scoping out for at least a year dropped out of the clear blue sky and fell on our heads. We weren’t planning to move until next year at the earliest, but it was an offer we couldn’t refuse. So now we call Cobble Hill home and I’ve got a whole new kitchen to navigate. Fun fact: the oven door does not fully open because it hits the refrigerator. So far this hasn’t been a problem. There also wasn’t room in the new kitchen for my much loved baker’s rack that stored nearly everything in our old place, so we had to get creative. And where do New Yorkers go when they want to get creative?

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i had determined that I wanted some sort of bar in the new place. I was tired of hiding all our liquor in a cabinet and besides, cabinet space was at a premium in the new joint. So we braved the crowds in Red Hook and picked up this little number.

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The top shelf of the dresser holds our stemless wine glasses, beer sampler glasses, beer coozies, coasters, a lemon juicer and various other bar-related items. But the bottom two drawers… oh, those drawers hold all my baking accoutrements. I am amazed at how much stuff that dresser holds. It’s been a godsend in the new apartment.

But on to the liquor! Continue reading

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread Recipe

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Don’t let anyone try to tell you that pumpkin season ends at Thanksgiving. They’re fools. It’s still technically fall for like, 10 more days, and fall is prime pumpkin season. To celebrate this fact, here is a recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread, a perfect way to use up all that leftover canned pumpkin puree you bought back in October. It’s a delicious, moist bread full of chocolate chunks that’s just as good to eat for breakfast as it is for dessert.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Makes two 9×5 loaves

The Ingredients

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 TSP salt
2 TSP baking soda
1 TSP baking powder
1 TSP ground cinnamon
1 TSP ground nutmeg
1 TSP ground ginger
1 TSP ground cloves
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
4 eggs
15 ounces canned pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
2/3 cup water
2 cups chocolate chip (I prefer Ghiradelli’s 60% cacao chips)

The Process:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9×5 loaf pans.

Whisk together the first eight ingredients in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar and the oil. Add the eggs and whisk to combine. Add the pumpkin and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture and the water in alternating steps, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, whisking to combine. Add the chocolate chips and stir to combine.

Divide the batter between the two loaf pans and place them on a rack set in the middle position of your oven. Bake until a cake tester or chopstick inserted in the middle of the loaves comes out clean (or just with chocolate smeared on it but no bread). Now here’s the only tricky part. Baking times vary wildly on this recipe, so I would start checking the bread at 45 minutes, but be prepared for it to take longer. The loaf pictured above took a full 70 minutes to cook thoroughly in my oven.

Let the bread cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove it from the pan (careful, it’ll be hot!) and place it on a rack to finish cooling completely. Slice and enjoy! It’s especially good with a little cream cheese smeared on top, but great just on its own. Wrap any left overs in plastic wrap and they’ll hold at room temperature for a few days.

A Cookbook Gift Guide for Beginning Bakers

Do you have a novice baker on your holiday list this year? Or would you like to inspire someone in your life to become a baker. Below you’ll find a list of books that I have found extremely helpful in my baking journey and the reasons why.

Martha Stewart Baking Handbook

Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

This book is basically my baking Bible. It was one of the first really comprehensive baking books I ever owned and I use it a lot– you can tell from the stained pages and how it just flips open to the Pate Brisee page as soon as you pull it off the shelf. There’s a reason Martha is known as a domestic goddess. Even if you don’t follow all of her painstaking details, you’ll still end up with an incredible product. Highlights include the aforementioned Pate Brisee (all-butter pie crust) and her Devil’s Food Cake.

Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook is available for purchase from Amazon.com

Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook

The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook

This is the newest entrant to my Essential List of Baking Books. I received this one just last year and it has quickly risen to be one of my favorites. It’s a great cookbook because the recipes range from incredibly easy no-cook desserts (Cookie Dough Truffles) to incredibly involved (Chocolate Cookie/Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Cream Sandwiches), so it’s a great book to grow with as you expand your baking skills. Everything I’ve made (and I’ve made a LOT) has turned out spectacularly and people have loved everything. Did I mention Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Ice Pops? Well, I am now. They’ll change your life, I swear.

The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook is available for purchase from Amazon.com

More from Magnolia

More from Magnolia

Yup, it’s that Magnolia– the bakery in New York City (and now locations around the world) made famous by either “Sex and the City” or “Lazy Sunday”, depending on which you watch. There is a recipe for their famous cupcakes, but I am more interested in all the other delights in this cookbook, the recipes for which have NEVER failed me. This is one of those rare cookbooks that just clicks with me and I hope it clicks for others as well. This cookbook gave me my favorite baked good to both make and eat– the Iced Ginger Cookie. (For the record, my favorite thing to just make is Lemon Meringue Cupcakes). Surprisingly, I don’t have the same love for the first Magnolia Bakery cookbook. For some reason, it’s just not as good as the follow-up.

More from Magnolia is available for purchase from Amazon.com

Good Housekeeping Great Baking

Good Housekeeping Great Baking

This is one of those cookbooks that’s just a great cookbook to have laying around. It’ll cover all the basics and you can get as fancy as you want. If you just want to make easy cookies, they’re in there. If you want to get crazy and make a Paris-Brest, it’s in there too. It’s a no-nonsense, no-frills kind of book and won’t intimidate new bakers. While it may lack a bit of personality, it’s a kitchen workhorse.

Good Housekeeping Great Baking is available for purchase from Amazon.com

America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

If nothing else, this book looks impressive. It’s a giant cookbook from the most scientific of bakers, America’s Test Kitchen. These guys break everything down and explain the whys and hows of baking. Their cinnamon roll recipe is one of my absolute favorites and I love how many pictures are in this book.

The America’s Test Kitchen Family Baking Book is available for purchase from Amazon.com

If you’re interested in giving the gift that keeps on giving, I highly recommend both the Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country magazine subscriptions. These magazines are focused more on cooking than baking, but they’re incredibly informative, fun magazines to read and the desserts recipes that are included are usually pretty wonderful.

If the new baker in your life doesn’t have room for all these beautiful, beautiful books, I’m happy to report that Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook, The Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook and More from Magnolia are all available as Kindle e-books through Amazon.com. You don’t need a Kindle to read the e-book versions; all you need is a tablet that can download the Kindle app! Both Cooks Illustrated and Cooks Country are also available as e-magazine subscriptions via the iTunes store.

Happy Holidays and Happy Baking!