Friday, December 24, 2010

Gingerbread Latte Cupcakes

These cupcakes were made to compliment my Eggnog Latte Cupcakes for those who don't like eggnog. I used the same coffee frosting for these, which provided the "latte" part of the flavor. The cupcakes had a wonderful, complex flavor with the addition of cocoa to the recipe. Many of my colleagues couldn't decide on which flavor to try, so they tried both (and I don't know if people had favorite between the two - I should have asked!)

Makes 12 cupcakes

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 1/4 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup hot milk

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.. Butter or line with paper liners a 12-cup muffin tin.

Cream butter with the white sugar. Add the molasses and the egg and egg yolk.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Dissolve the baking soda in the hot milk. Add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until just combined. Stir in the hot milk mixture. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared tin.

Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes or until slightly springy to the touch. Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan and remove to a rack to cool.

COFFEE FROSTING (Adapted from The Cupcake Project)
Makes enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup chilled whipping cream
8 oz mascarpone
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 to 3 cups confectioner's sugar (depending upon how thick you prefer frosting)

Whip up whipping cream in mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Fold in mascarpone. While mixing over low speed, slowly add the coffee granules and confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, being careful not to over whip frosting.

Frost as desired. Decorate with sprinkles (or cookie crumbs!)


Thursday, December 23, 2010


Pizzelles are actually a recipe that I have started making at some point in the past couple years. I have no idea what drove me to make a recipe that required I buy yet another kitchen gadget, but I love these cookies and haven't regretted the purchase once.

These are quick & easy to whip up. If you like the "tie-dyed" look, add sprinkles right before you spoon the batter up (add to a small amount of the batter at a time, or you'll end up with a brown mess). As the dough spreads out, the color spreads with it. I like to roll mine around a turkey baster to add more visual interest. (Must do this immediately while they are hot)

PIZZELLES (From AllRecipes)

3 eggs
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

In a large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until thick. Stir in the melted butter and vanilla. Sift together the flour and baking powder, and blend into the batter until smooth.

Heat the pizzelle iron, and spray with oil. Drop about one tablespoon of batter onto each circle on the iron. You may need to experiment with the amount of batter and baking time depending on the iron. Bake for 20 to 45 seconds, or until steam is no longer coming out of the iron. Carefully remove cookies from the iron. Cool completely before storing in an airtight container.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Easy Caramels

For as long as I can remember, my family has made a table full of Christmas goodies each holiday season. It's always been a family event - I have fond memories of being young (4 or 5) and requesting specific frosting colors on cut out cookies so that I could decorate them with sprinkles, red hots, etc.

As we've grown older, and fewer family members are able to make it to the holiday celebrations, the variety of goodies has decreased, down to a few key favorites. These caramels are one of the recipes that continues to be made annually (and often more than one batch per season). Even this year, where my husband & I will be celebrating without our extended family, I couldn't resist whipping up a batch.


1 cup butter
1 pound (2 1/4c) brown sugar (I've used both light & dark, depending on the flavor you want)
dash of salt
1 cup light corn syrup
14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Butter the bottom & sides of a 9x13 inch cake pan, set aside.

Melt butter in a heavy pan. Add brown sugar and salt. Stir until combined. Blend in corn syrup. Gradually add condensed milk. Stir constantly over medium heat until candy reaches firm to hard ball stage. (My thermometer has firm ball as 248F and hard ball as 260F - I like the texture best when at 255F on my thermometer). This will take 12-15 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Pour into buttered pan. Cool completely, and cut into squares. Wrap as desired. (I use the non-stick foil wrap to carefully twist around the candies, growing up we used the plastic backed floral foil - the colorful variety we'd use looked great!)


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lemon Cranberry Muffins

With a few left over cranberries in the fridge during the holiday season, I wanted to find a way to incorporate them into a warm winter breakfast. I knew waffles would be a no-go (My blueberry waffles turned out wonderfully this summer, but whole fruits/berries in Belgium waffle makers makes a mess, and the waffles are difficult to get out). My next thought was muffins, and I had everything I needed to make them.

The lemon & cranberry combination works well together in these muffins. The cranberries are quite tart, but the muffin itself is just sweet enough to counteract the tartness. They store well in a tupperware for a couple days, making them a great Sunday breakfast, with leftovers to eat the next few mornings. (And they're easy to bring with on the commute to work when you're running behind... Not that I ever get a late start on these early, dark mornings...)

LEMON CRANBERRY MUFFINS (Adapted from Food Republik)
Makes approximately 14-16 muffins

1 - 6oz container of lemon yogurt
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
pinch salt
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
1/4 cup oil
2 cups fresh cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Mix the yogurt, sugar, salt, eggs and lemon extract together in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder. Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir together until moistened.

Add oil and mix until batter is smooth and homogeneous. Fold in cranberries.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until a toothpick inserted into muffins comes out clean.


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Beef Stroganoff

As the weather has turned cool, we've been craving heartier dinners. My husband & I love mushrooms, so we decided we'd try stroganoff. I've never made the "real" thing before as I grew up on the Hamburger Helper version, and made crock-pot versions while in college (with lots of cream of mushroom soups and hamburger for the meat). This is definitely worth the additional effort. We easily had enough for about 6-7 servings, which meant easy lunches for the next few days as it reheated fairly well. Next time we make it, I hope to have the time to make egg noodles from scratch, too!

BEEF STROGANOFF (From The Joy of Cooking)

2 pounds of stew beef
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
1 pound mushrooms, sliced
2 cups beef broth
1 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard

Cut beef into small strips. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the meat in batches, until just browned. Remove to a plate.

In the same skillet, melt the butter. Add, and cook, the onion for about 3 minutes, or until softened. Add the mushrooms, and cook until the liquid evaporates (approximately 8 minutes).

Add the beef broth, an simmer for 10 minutes. Then stir in the sour cream and mustard. Add back the meat, and simmer (do NOT boil) for about 2-3 minutes until the meat is heated through, but still medium to medium rare. Serve immediately over egg noodles.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cranberry Cheesecake

I recently realized that it's been years since I made a cheesecake. Without a lot of family nearby to help eat it (and with a lactose intolerant husband), a cheesecake can be dangerous for me to have around! There is no way I would be able to let any of it go to waste, so I'd have to eat cheesecake at least once or twice a day until it was gone.

Although I had to work on Thanksgiving, my friends hosted a full turkey dinner the next day so that I wouldn't miss out on the celebration. I quickly jumped on the opportunity to make dessert, and wanted to try something different from my typical honey crunch pecan pie (which I promise to share at some point in the future). I wanted to find a cheesecake recipe that would compliment the meal, and knew that cranberry was the way to go.

I substituted some light ingredients, so the texture wasn't quite as heavy, but it still tasted great! I would suggest more cranberries, though, if you want a stronger cranberry flavor - the Oreo crust competed with the cranberries more than I would have liked, but they do blend together well.

CRANBERRY CHEESECAKE (Adapted from Frankly Entertaining)
Makes 1 - 9 inch Cheesecake

3 cups Oreo cookies, crushed
1/2 cup butter, melted

1/3 cup water
2/3 cup sugar
2 cups cranberries

3 - 8oz packages cream cheese (I used 2 light and 1 regular)
1 cup sugar
1 cup light sour cream
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees. Combine cookie crumbs and butter and press into the bottom of a 9″ springform pan (& about 1 inch up the sides). Bake for 8 minutes, let cool.

Increase temperature of the oven to 350 degrees.

Combine water and sugar in a saucepan over med-high heat. Bring to a boil for 1 min. Add cranberries, reduce heat until most of the berries have popped. Press mixture through a sieve or food mill. Reserve liquid. (Discard the solid cranberries)

For the cake, start by mixing cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing between each one. (Be sure to scrape the edges of your bowl regularly).
Add sour cream and vanilla.

Add mixture to cookie crust. Add a few tablespoons of the cranberry liquid and swirl it into the batter with a knife.

Bake for 45 minutes. Be sure to place the pan onto a cookie sheet as small amounts of butter may leak out the bottom.

When the cake is done (very little "jiggle" in the center), leave it in the oven, with the door open, for two hours.

After the cake is completely cool, top it with the rest of the cranberry liquid, and place in the fridge overnight.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Candied Almonds

Whenever I see (or smell!) the candied nut stands on the street, it reminds me of NYC. So many corners have these wonderful smelling stands, and I have fond memories of sharing the small packages of warm nuts with my husband.

Almost daily when I walk home from work, I pass the stands in Boston. I always think that I should make them, but have never taken the time to try. (And there's no reason why I shouldn't - we ALWAYS have large bags of almonds from Costco in our pantry.)

As the weather has cooled off, and the holiday season approached, I knew I had to give these a shot. They were SO EASY (and quick!) And much more affordable than the $3-$4 you pay for a small bag while out shopping.

These would make fantastic gifts to package up for friends for the holiday season!

CANDIED ALMONDS (Adapted from Tasty Kitchen Blog)
(With great, step-by-step pictures HERE)

1/3 cup Water, Plus 2 Tablespoons
1 1/3 cup Sugar, Divided
1 teaspoon Cinnamon, Ground
2 cups Raw Almonds
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract

Use a heavy saucepan (NOT the nonstick kind) and a wooden spoon.

First add the water, 1 cup of sugar and the cinnamon and stir. Bring it to a boil over medium heat.

Add the almonds to the mix, raise the temperature to high heat and stir CONSTANTLY until the water is almost completely boiled away (5-7 minutes).

Turn the heat to medium-low, and add your vanilla. After you stir your vanilla in, dump in the rest of your sugar. (I think I'll try using vanilla sugar next time, and cutting out the vanilla extract).

Stir until well coated with sugar - the mixture will be very dry at this time. Dump onto a cookie sheet to cool.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Eggnog Latte Cupcakes

With the upcoming holiday season, I wanted to make some type of "Christmas" cupcake to share at work. I planned to bring them in for a combined "celebration" - my wonderful interns had completed their month on the unit, and one of our patients completed her transplant and was ready to go home after a long 7 week stay with us!

While some may think that Red Velvet may fit the criteria due to their deep red color, I think I am one of the few people who doesn't like the flavor, so I have no interest in making it. My personal love for eggnog lead my search for an eggnog cupcake, and I ran across a recipe for eggnog latte cupcakes. (It just so happens that Eggnog Latte's are my favorite coffee drink of the season - my espresso machine has been getting much more use this month!)

Thus frosting is amazing! Much lighter than a buttercream (and best when cool/refrigerated), with a wonderful coffee favor! I think it would be fantastic on a Mocha Cupcake (and you'll see it again soon on another seasonal cupcake recipe!)

EGGNOG CUPCAKES (Adapted from Baking Bites)

1 teaspoon rum extract
1 cup low-fat eggnog
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. In a small bowl, mix together the rum extract, eggnog, vegetable oil, and vanilla extract. In a large bowl, mix together the nutmeg, sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Pour the liquid ingredients into the dry ingredients and whisk until just combined. Divide evenly between prepared muffin wells.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean and the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pan 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

COFFEE FROSTING (Adapted from The Cupcake Project)
Makes enough to frost 2 dozen cupcakes

1 cup chilled whipping cream
8 oz mascarpone
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
2 to 3 cups confectioner's sugar (depending upon how thick you prefer frosting - I used about 2 1/2 cups)

Whip up whipping cream in mixer until soft peaks begin to form. Fold in mascarpone. While mixing over low speed, slowly add the coffee granules and confectioner's sugar, one cup at a time, being careful not to over whip frosting.