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Posts tagged ‘cupcakes’

Cupcakes And Calendars

Cover of our calendar

Cover of our calendar

January is turning out to be a really busy month, work is busy and thats a good thing.This is also my anniversary month, 5th year blogging, honestly it kind of blows my mind.  I have been really busy also with the work I am doing with a group on Instagram @Grumble Inc, we are a rapidly growing group of pet parents that do fun events on Instagram and raise money for animal rescue groups. The need is great and never seems to end. We work with other rescue and charitable groups holding online auctions to not just benefit rescue but to help out individuals who may not have the funds to pay for emergency or much needed veterinary care which includes surgery and other urgent issues. We recently put together an 18 month calendar with photo’s of our Instagram friends and all the proceeds go to @pugqueen who does amazing work rescuing pugs. Percy is featured on October 2017. The calendars are $15 plus shipping and we have sold about 150 so far.

Percy upper right corner

Percy upper right corner

On the rescue front you remember the little puggle I spoke about, Luna. Well she is doing great and is in a foster home where she is getting much needed medical care and evaluation for her seizure disorder. The great news is that she has only had one seizure since she has been in foster care and is thriving and happy. We have someone waiting for her who is giving her a forever home as soon as she is ready for adoption.

Luna

Luna

I am president of our block association and every year I plan a holiday party, this year has been a disaster. We planned on having it in December at a members home but a few days before the event we had to cancel because she was sick. I rescheduled to January 7th, after the holidays but thats ok, we had to cancel because of bad weather. NYC got blasted with a major snow storm and frigid temperatures. Most of the day yesterday was blizzard like conditions with the wind blowing and snow coming down fast and furious. Now I am thinking we will have a welcome Spring party, plans are in the works. The weather forecast did not call for the heavy snow or blizzard like conditions so I made cupcakes to take with me to the party. My go to chocolate cake recipe from Hershey’s it never fails and always produces a moist, chocolately and delicious cupcake. My favorite way to serve them is with a cream cheese buttercream frosting. Simple and delicious.

cupcakes

cupcakes

The recipe for the cupcakes is so easy to make, the recipe also makes an excellent layer cake. I love that there is no creaming of butter and sugar, you put all the ingredients in one bowl and mix it all together. I have posted this recipe several times here but it’s so good I feel good about posting again. There is no butter in this cake only vegetable oil. You don’t have to use hershey’s cocoa but it’s best to use cocoa powder that is not Dutch Process for this cake, use natural cocoa powder. If you don’t understand the difference read this article on Epicurious about the different types.

Hershey’s Best Chocolate Cake

makes 24 cupcakes, 2 9 inch layers or 3 8 inch layers

1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder

2 cups sugar

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp espresso powder (optional)

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup whole milk at room temperature

2 large eggs at room temperature lightly beaten

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup boiling water

Heat oven to 350 degree’s. Line muffin pan with liners or butter and flour cake pans.

Whisk dry ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. In 4 cup measuring cup add the wet ingredients and whisk together. Add to the dry ingredients and mix with electric mixer for 2 minutes. In the meantime put water on to boil and add the 1 cup boiling water to the batter and mix with electric mixer for 1 minute or until combined.

The batter will be thin, thats ok it’s supposed to be that way. Pour into prepared pans and for cupcakes bake 20-25 minutes. Layer cakes 30-40 minutes depending on size of the pan. Cake is done when tester inserted in middle comes out clean.

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz softened (room temperature) unsalted butter

8 oz cream cheese softened to room temperature

4-6 cups powdered sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

approximately 1/4 cup milk or half and half

Cream the butter and cream cheese until soft and fluffy. Add powdered sugar a cup at a time mixing between each addition. Add the vanill and milk. When adding the milk do it slowely, and stop when it’s spreading consistency you may not need 1/4 cup or you might need a little more. You judge how much you add so that you reach the desired consistency.

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Block Party, Tofu, And It’s Finally Autumn

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It has been a crazy few weeks, the last week especially. Saturday the 24th our block association (I happen to be President)  had our annual block party and the planning and preparation was non stop,  I was so nervous, hoping and praying that it did not rain. The last block party was cancelled because of heavy rain and one thing for certain is that you cannot control Mother Nature.  I watched the weather report every day and was so pleased that the weather was beautiful, we started out with some rain in the morning but it cleared to a bright, sunny slightly cool day. Everything went well, a few technical issues but our neighbors all banded together and the problem was solved. The block party is carefully orchestrated and members of our block all work together as a team. I started in June by filling out all the paperwork for a city permit which includes closing our street to cars, getting a sound permit from the police, getting insurance for the day among other things we have to do to prepare. We always have a blow up bouncy castle for the children to play in, this year we were so lucky that the local police precinct brought their rock climbing wall, the police supervise the children and make sure they are safe. We hired a DJ so there was great music and we collaborated with the local elementary school which is on the block and they provided a rock band comprised of students who attend after school programs at the Brooklyn Music School, they were amazing. When they played Nirvana’s great song “Smells Like Teen Spirit” the crowd went wild. All in all a great day for our neighborhood, we grilled burgers, hot dogs, veggie burgers and fish, there were assorted beverages and we had a bake sale.

rock climbing wall

rock climbing wall- not our block but thats what the wall looked like

It is starting to feel like Fall, up until a few days before the party it was almost 90 degree’s, humid and pretty miserable. All of a sudden, there is a slight chill in the air and the telltale signs of Fall are slowely becoming apparent. Today walking to the store I noticed they were setting out beautiful  Mums, I love the colors and when displayed with pumpkins it makes such a beautiful Fall decoration, some local shops have painted fall scenes on their windows, our neighborhood seems to come alive at this time of year. The days are shorter and I am so happy to not be using my air conditioner which has run non stop the entire summer, it was so unbearably hot. I am looking forward to Halloween, a favorite holiday of mine, there is nothing about this time of year that I don’t like.

I’ve barely had time to cook or post on the blog, and have been absent on all social media as well. I continue with the change in my eating, avoiding sugar, grains, flour etc… but have not cut dairy or fats and I’ve lost weight. This is going to be a life style change for me, it’s not a diet, of course there will be times when I indulge but I plan on staying on this course for the long run. For the block party I had a bake sale and made cookies and cupcakes, I gave some to neighbors and the police and sold the rest. I love making cupcakes and made vanilla and chocolate using my favorite chocolate cake recipe from Hershey’s Cocoa can and my Tender Yellow Cake recipe for the vanilla cupcakes. The frosting is a simple vanilla buttercream using butter, cream cheese, confectioners sugar, vanilla and cream.

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My meals are small and consist of mostly vegetables and protein. I recently made a quick and easy stir fry using tofu shirataki, noodles made from tofu and Japanese yam, they are wonderful and so easy to prepare. I used what I had on hand, kale, red bell pepper, zucchini, egg and garnished with peanuts. This is not really a recipe you can use whatever you have on hand.

Tofu Noodle Stir Fry

Made 2 servings

red bell pepper sliced into strips

zucchini chopped or cut into strips

kale, leaves only, no stems chopped

2 scallions, white and light green parts chopped

1 tbs minced ginger

1 clove garlic chopped

soy sauce

toasted sesame oil

neutral vegetable oil to cook the vegetables

tofu shirataki noodles

1 egg beaten and cooked into a thin omelette, cut into strips

chopped roasted peanuts for garnish

First pour the noodles (they are fresh and are packaged in liquid) into a strainer and rinse well several times. Set aside to drain.

Heat vegetable oil in a skillet and add the ginger, scallion and garlic, cook until it’s fragrant and soft. Add the vegetables and cook until the vegetables are cooked through. Cook the egg either in the microwave or skillet and cut into strips. Add the tofu noodles to the vegetables and stir to combine, add soy sauce and a few splashes of sesame seed oil to taste. Stir in the egg and serve with some chopped peanuts.

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Tofu is a great source of protein and I think of it like white walls, a blank pallet waiting to be transformed and enhanced. I bought a package of firm tofu the other day and made a marinade using white miso, soy sauce, mirin, honey, ponzu, rice wine vinegar, ginger and garlic chili sauce. I patted the tofu with a paper towel to remove excess liquid, cut into bite size pieces and added to the marinade and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The next day I oven roasted at 425 degrees after drizzling with some sesame oil.  The tofu absorbed the flavor of the marinade and became crisp on the outside, tender on the inside and was delicous with some broccolini steamed first then finished in the oven drizzled with the marinade from the tofu and some sesame oil.

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Orange Angel Food Cupcakes With Chocolate Orange Buttercream For Fiesta Friday #45

Angel Food Cupcake With Chocolate Orange buttercream

Angel Food Cupcake With Chocolate Orange buttercream

Tis the season for Holiday parties, potlucks and scratching my head wondering what to bring. This Sunday is my Block Association pot luck Holiday party and my neighbors  usually request dessert. This year I decided to make angel food cupcakes, light as a feather and flavored with orange, so seasonal right? The frosting is a chocolate orange buttercream and for just a little more orange I spread just a touch of orange marmalade on top of the cupcake before icing.  Because I have two parties I made a double batch and am bringing them to Fiesta Friday #45. Hard to believe this party has been happening 45 weeks, and it’s still going strong thanks to the amazing Angie@the novice gardener and as always there are amazing co hosts helping out and this week we have two fantastic co hosts Michelle@giraffes can bake andMB @Bourbon & Brown Sugar. Thank you for hosting and co hosting and I hope you like these cupcakes.

Cupcakes:

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cup egg whites at room temperature

1 tsp cream of tartar

1 tsp orange zest

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 cup cake flour

1/2 cup confectioners sugar

1/2 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 325°. Set 12 jumbo foil muffin cups on a rimmed baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the cake flour with the confectioners’ sugar. In a large bowl, combine the egg whites with the salt, orange zest and cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the whites are firm and glossy. Sift the flour mixture over the egg whites in 2 additions, folding gently until incorporated.
Spoon the batter into the muffin cups filling to the top. Bake for 15 minutes (checking on them starting at 13 minutes), shifting the pan from front to back, until the cupcakes are springy and golden. Transfer the cupcakes to a rack to cool. It’s important to use the foil lined they are more substantial and will hold up when the cupcakes start expanding. This recipe is from Grace Parisi and she says’ to set them on a baking sheet rather than in muffin tins.
The Buttercream:

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%) broken into small pieces

1 tsp orange zest

4 egg whites from large eggs

1/2 cup +2 tbs granulated sugar

8 ounces unsalted butter cut into pieces at room temperature

Place chocolate and orange zest in microwave safe bowl, microwave for 30 seconds, stir and microwave another 30 seconds, it may need another 30 seconds to melt. Stir until all the chocolate is melted set aside to cool.

Combine sugar and egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water; whisk until the mixture feels hot to touch and the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the mixer stand. Using the whisk attachment, beat the mixture on medium-high until cooled, about 15 minutes.

Add the butter a piece at a time beating continuously until its all added, now add the cooled chocolate and beat until combined. Use immediately.

Spread a thin layer of the marmalade on top of the cupcake, pipe some of the chocolate buttercream in the middle. Enjoy!

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Cupcakes For Fiesta Friday #40 And A Halloween Tour Of My Neighborhood

Pumpkins

Pumpkins

This week is special, today is Halloween and believe me Halloween is HUGE in my neighborhood. There are numerous theatrical productions, a Halloween Walk, houses are decorated, the leaves are blowing and it’s a bit blustery today, I think it’s a perfect Halloween day! I do love Halloween, I get to watch my favorite horror flicks, hand out candy, do some baking and participate in the festivities. I decided to bake cupcakes to give to the children I know and that know me. Vanilla cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting. I used my go to yellow cake recipe, an original from my Mom and the best yellow cake EVER!! It’s like a cross between a regular cake and a chiffon cake. It’s very light and has a great crumb. I posted this recipe years ago on Food52 and it’s been made many many times over and is a very popular recipe. I made the cupcakes in three sizes, jumbo, regular and mini. The recipe made 12 regular size, 6 jumbo and   12 mini’s. That’s a lot of cupcakes, which is why I thought I would bring them to this weeks party, Fiesta Friday #40. Hope you enjoy and Happy Halloween!!!

The party this week is hosted as always by Angie @The Novice Gardener  fresh from her big birthday bash last week and our lovely co hosts are Margy @La Petite Casserole and the fantastic Jhuls @The Not So Creative Cook (Jhuls honey. you are nothing if not creative)

 

Assorted cupcakes

Assorted cupcakes

 Tender Yellow Cake

Serves 10-12
3 large eggs separated and at room temperature
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 1/4 cups cake flour
3 teaspoons Baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup + 1 tbs vegetable oil (I use canola)
1 cup whole milk (1 or 2% work also)
1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pre-heat oven to 350
Prepare 2 9 inch round baking pans or cupcake tins, butter bottoms and line with parchment rounds, butter again bottoms and sides and dust with flour.
Beat egg whites until frothy then add 1/2 cup of the sugar (reserving the rest) a tablespoon at a time until egg whiles are stiff and glossy. Set aside.
Sift flour, remaining 1 cup sugar, baking powder and salt into large mixing bowl if you are using a hand held mixer or into bowl of stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Add the oil and 1/2 cup of the milk and the vanilla. Beat for 1 minute on medium speed, mixture will be quite thick. I actually prefer to use a hand held mixer for this recipe.
Add the egg yolks and remaining milk and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.
Fold in egg whites and distribute into the baking pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool for 10-20 minutes in the pan then turn out onto cake rack to cool completely. NOTE: Adjust baking time if making cupcakes 15-20 mintutes.

Frosting is wonderful

Frosting is wonderful

Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting

(Adapted from a recipe from Country Living)

8 oz softened cream cheese

8 oz softened unsalted butter

3 tbs half and half or milk

3 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Beat cream cheese, butter and half and half until light and fluffy. Add confectioners sugar, cocoa and vanilla and beat until spreading consistency, smooth and creamy. If too thick add more milk a tsp at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. Frost your cake or cupcakes immediately.

mini

mini

Flyer

Flyer

Halloween theatrical set

Halloween theatrical set

313 Clinton Halloween set

313 Clinton Halloween set

More 313 Clinton

More 313 Clinton

Next door to 313 Clinton

Grave Markers with a message Next door to 313 Clinton

Halloween decorations

Halloween decorations

NYC marathon is Sunday

NYC marathon is Sunday

Fiesta Friday

Fiesta Friday

 

 

Cupcake Therapy

Cupcakes

Cupcakes

I see so many beautiful cakes and cupcakes I decided I want to start honing my piping skills, I have never been very good at this and want to do better. I will experiment using different tips and techniques. These cupcakes are pretty basic, I used my recipe for white cake and Hershey’s cooked frosting (because it was easy). I love making swiss meringue buttercream frosting but the egg whites and all that butter on a practice run are not really practical. I have a long way to go before my piping skills look effortless. I have Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and had surgery 2 years ago, my right hand is still weak and I still have nerve damage so this is difficult but good therapy.

Makes 24 regular size cupcakes or 12 jumbo
  • 4 large egg whites at room temperature (1/2 cup egg whites)
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar divided
  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 3 teaspoons  baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon  salt
  • 1/3 cup  + 1 tbs vegetable oil
  • 1 cup whole milk at room temperature + 1 tbs heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Pre-Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners in the cupcake tins

In stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment beat egg whites until frothy, add  1/2 cup sugar, 1 tbs at a time beating after each addition. Continue beating until egg whites are thick and glossy. They should be stiff enough that when the beater or whisk is lifted they stay on the beater and don’t drop off.

In large mixing bowl sift flour, remaining 1 cup sugar and salt. Add the vegetable oil, milk,cream,and vanilla, beat with hand mixer on medium high speed for 2 minutes. Gently fold in the egg whites.

Pour into prepared pans and bake for 15=20 minutes or until lightly browned and cake tester comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes and invert onto cooling rack. Cool completely before frosting.

Frosting:

Recipe from Hershey’s

1 stick (4 oz) butter (I used salted)

2/3 cup natural cocoa (I used Hershey’s)

3 cups powdered sugar

1/3 cup milk (divided)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp orange zest (optional)

Melt butter in saucepan, add the cocoa and powdered sugar and optional orange zest, mix with hand held mixer, add half the milk and vanilla and continue mixing until the frosting is smooth add the rest of the milk if you feel the frosting is too thick. If you are going to pipe the frosting you will need to cool the frosting first, I put in the refrigerator for 1 hour.

Simple Chocolate Cupcakes/Cake

This is the easiest, totally fool proof recipe for chocolate cake or cupcakes. I have been using it for years, it never fails me. I tried literally hundreds of different recipes for chocolate cake and one day I noticed this on the Hershey’s cocoa can and decided to give it a try, well the rest is history it’s now the only recipe I will use when I make chocolate cake.  The cake is moist and delicious, you use vegetable oil instead of butter and I suggest you use Hershey’s cocoa it always turns out perfectly.  I will be posting a Valentines Cake recipe using this chocolate cake so consider this a preview of things to come.

Chocolate Cupcake

Makes: 2 9 inch round cakes or 24 regular size cupcakes

  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cups cocoa (I use hershey’s) the recipe doesn’t specify whether or not to use dutch or natural cocoa since its a hersheys recipe I use what they say to use.
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (If you want to substitute melted butter for the oil its fine)
  • 1 cup whole milk at room temperature
  • 2 large eggs at room temperature and lightly beaten
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons instant espresso coffee (Optional but recommended)
  • soft butter and flour to prep baking pans or you can use cooking spray
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare two 9″ round baking pans, butter the bottom add a parchment round then butter bottom and sides and flour the pan or you can use cocoa powder instead of flour. If you are making cupcakes place liners in two 12 cup muffin tins. In large mixing bowl add your dry ingredients, flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking soda and baking powder and whisk to combine. Now add the wet ingredients milk, oil,eggs and vanilla do not add the boiling water yet. With hand held mixer beat for 2 minutes. Now add the boiling water with optional espresso powder, beat just until combined. Pour into your prepared pans (the batter is quite thin) and bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Let cakes sit in pans for 10 minutes then invert onto cake rack to cool. Use your favorite frosting or ganache. This recipe will make 2 9 inch cakes or 24 cupcakes. If making cupcakes pour batter into lined cup 3/4 full, leave room for them to rise. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven, cake should spring back when lightly touched, Be careful not to over bake.