Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Southern Humingbird Cupcakes

My husband informed me yesterday that the boys at work were having a potluck which meant I needed to bake something for it. I was excited because there was a cupcake recipe that I had been wanting to try and had even already bought the ingredients for it. I came across the this particular recipe the other day when I was perusing my favorite baking blogs and seeing what new recipes were being featured. On one of my fav blogs called Bake or Break there was a cupcake recipe that caught my eye...a Hummingbird cake.

For those of you who may have not ever heard of a Hummingbird cake, it is a southern cake and one that is a staple here in the south. I did a little research on it and the first recipe "published" was in Southern Living in 1978 and was referenced as a traditional southern recipe.

So I decided that since I am now a resident of the South, married to a true Southerner and have a potluck to cook for some Southerners, I would try this recipe. It was easy to make and they were so good. I loved the interesting combo of the pineapple, bananas and cinnamon, plus the cream cheese frosting was literally icing on the cake. In the end the Hummingbird Cupcakes really lived up to their reputation.

Hummingbird Cupcake
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 & 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 8-ounce can crushed pineapple
1 cup chopped pecans
2 cups chopped bananas
chopped pecans or sanding sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour regular cupcake pans. Set aside.

Start off by combining in a large bowl the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, and cinnamon (I used my stand mixer for this recipe). Next making sure the eggs have been beaten well, add the eggs, then the oil to the dry mixture. Turning my stand mixer on low, mix the batter slowly making sure you mix it until it is barely moistened. Lastly, stir in the vanilla, pineapples, pecans, and bananas until it is mixed well.

Pour the batter into prepared pans, filling them up a little over halfway. Bake for 15-25minutes (depending on your oven, mine cooked in about 16 minutes) until a toothpick or butter knife is inserted in the center comes out clean. Remember to watch them closely because nobody wants a dry cupcake.

Let the cupcakes cool in pan for a few minutes before removing and placing the cupcakes on a cooling rack. Let them cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling start on the easy cream cheese frosting......

Cream cheese frosting
12 ounces cream cheese, softened (about 1 1/2 cubes cream cheese)
1 cup butter, softened
1.5 pounds confectioners sugar, sifted
2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer), make sure that both the butter and cream cheese are at room temperature, combining the cream cheese and butter until creamy. Gradually add the sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla. Then on high, beat the frosting for about 4-5 minutes. This makes the frosting smooth and fluffy. Then place the frosting in the refrigerator, so that it is easier to work with.

Once all cupcakes are cooked you can either use a butter knife and frost or I used a frosting bag and with a fancy tip and piped on the frosting. As garnish you can either use pecans as a garnish or leave them plane.

Makes about 36 regular-sized cupcakes.

This unique combo is a southern treat that you will want to make over and over again. So enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

An old school classic....Snickerdoodles

Last night I had the urge to bake something and since Thad got me the cookbook Martha Stewart's Cookies, I thought I would try another cookie recipe from the cookbook. I love Martha's recipes and have never been disappointed by any of her recipes, so as I was skimming through the cookbook I came across her recipe for Snickerdoodles and I am a lover of Snickerdoodles. As a little girl I loved to make cookies and one recipe I always made was Snickerdoodles. They are easy to make but are a classic staple in any recipe collection.

What caught my eye about this recipe was that there was no cream of tartar used and in contrast to the Snickdoodles recipe I use, there was no shortening used and instead of one stick of butter, you use two. This is a simple recipe but oh so good. I think for me it is the simple creamy light taste of the cookie wrapped in cinnamon and sugar, that pulls me in. I followed Martha's recipe to a "T" and even measured the exact size of each dough ball. These cookies are a little larger than your typical Snickerdoodle and make 20 cookies. And as usual, Thad was my official taste tester and he gave these a thumbs up. So if you love an old time favorite like Snickerdoodles, you will love Martha's recipe.

2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (a little extra cinnamon never hurt either)

Start off by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Also line a larger cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Sift together the dry ingredients, combining the flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer) cream together the butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar using the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Next add in each egg, one at a time until just combined, be careful to not over mix. Then turning your mixer to low, slowly adding in the dry mixture to the butter mixture, until completely combined.

I placed the dough in the refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes so that it was easier to work with. While the dough is chilling, I combined the cinnamon and the 2 remaining tablespoons of sugar on a wide plate. Then once the dough is chilled, I scoop out a good size chunk of dough, rolling it into a ball. You want to make sure the balls are 1 3/4-inch balls, so that they are nice and big. Then roll into the cinnamon sugar. Place them 3 inches apart on the lined cookie sheet.

Place in the oven for 11-13 minutes, making sure the edges are golden and rotating half-way through. Once done let them cool for several minutes on the cookie sheet and then move them to a cooling rack to cool. Just a side note....they are good when served just barely warm.

So there you have it, an oldie but a goodie that is quick and easy but a definite favorite.

Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Everyone likes Oreos.......

(Sorry for the blurry pic, it was the best one I took which is sad)

Ok so who doesn't like Oreo cookies? And especially who does not like homemade Oreo cookies? Usually you can't just have one Oreo you need atleast a whole row....well you will feel the same way about this Oreo recipe. This is a recipe of my mom's that will knock your socks off. The cookie is sweet and chocolaty, with a creamy cream cheese buttery filling.... making a soft, creamy and chewy delight.

I had these ready when Thad came home from playing tennis last night and upon entering the house he proceeded to tell me he was not hungry. It took a little time but he ended up having a cookie, then a cookie with frosting on it and then wanted some more....he was hooked which was my plan. Thad was doing his usually animated yelling and pounding on the counter about how good they were and it is not everyday I get that reaction from him.....so you know these are a treat.

This recipe is so easy to make and fun to assemble....

Homemade Oreo Cookies

2 boxes Devil Food Cake
1 1/2 cup shortening
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Start off by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Get out a cookie sheet and set aside.

In a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer)empty the 2 packages of Devil Food Cake, adding the shortening, eggs and vanilla. On medium speed mix until blended well. Dough will be a little stiff. Scoop out dough with small spoon and roll into uniformed balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Place in the oven, baking them for 7-10 minutes (mine were perfect at 7 minutes). You want them to still be soft and chewy, so watch them closely. Once ready take the cookies out and let them sit for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Let them cool completely.

2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup butter
8 oz. cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla

While you are baking your batches of cookies start on your filling so that it can be made and refrigerated for 30 minutes to an hour. Using your stand mixer again (or a hand mixer) combine the powdered sugar, butter and cream cheese, making sure the cream cheese and butter are both at room temperature. Start off mixing the ingredients on low speed for 2 minutes and then mix on medium speed for 5-6 minutes to give the filling a very smooth and creamy texture. Place the filling in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour to let the filling firm up.

Once all cookies are made and cooled completely and the frosting has been chilled, you can now get started on the assembly of the Oreos. Using a frosting bag and a round standard tip, fill up the bag as much as you can with the creamy filling. I make sure the two cookies I am using are the same size and on the inside of the first cookie, pipe on the filling in a circular motion from the outside in until the cookie is completely covered. Then place the other cookie on top, making a yummy homemade Oreo cookie. Once done with the assembly I place them in an air tight container in the refrigerator, to keep them as fresh as possible.

As a warning, when you make this recipe you might as well have copies of the recipe on hand because you will be asked for it. So give them a try and I guarantee these will become yet another family favorite.

Fait avec l'amour,

Friday, July 9, 2010

Roz's Birthday Fruit Tart

I celebrated another birthday this past Wednesday. I was grateful for another year and was talking to one of my best friends and she has a birthday the day after mine. You know the saying, "another year older and another year wiser"? Well I asked her what she woke up knowing on her borthday and she said less than she knew before and that is exactly how I feel. So with that said, I did have a great birthday.

Growing up my mom always made sure that on our birthdays we were treated like kings and queens. It was always a very special day. So one thing I always had on my birthday was a Fruit Tart which my mom has listed in her coobook as "Roz's Birthday Fruit Tart". It is always a treat to have it made for me each year. Since I now live in Alabama and my mom lives in Utah, my mother-in-law made it for me this year which was such a sweet gesture and it just meant the world to me (Thanks Pat). So I thought I would share my most favorite fruit tart ever with you all......

Roz's Birthday Fruit Tart

Sugar Cookie Crust
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Fresh fruit of choice

Start off by preheating the oven to 325 degrees.

Cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Then add egg, vanilla and almond extract. Mix until all is combined. Set aside. In a separate medium size bowl combine the flour, baking soda and cream of tarter. Once blended well, slowly add the dry mixture to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix until blended but do not over mix.

Next divide the dough into to equal halves. To prevent the dough from sticking to your hands place some flour on them and pat the dough into the 11" tart pans (you can also a 8", 9.5" or 1 pizza round pan). When patting the dough into the tart pans, make sure to press the dough a little up the sides for a nice crust.

Place on the middle and bake for 10-15 minutes depending on your oven or until it is a light brown color. Take out of oven and let cool completely.

Tart Filling
16 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

To prepare the filling cream together the cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until mixed well and is smooth. Then spread filling on cooled tart. Decorate with fruit of your choice....kiwi, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or whatever fruits you love. Once assembled the last step is the orange glaze.

(These pics are of the Fruit Tart Pat made for me...so pretty)

Orange Glaze1/2 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon grated orange peel
1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
4 teaspoons cornstarch

Combine the sugar, juices, orange peel, lemon peel and cornstarch in a small or medium sauce pan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the glaze is thick. Remove from heat and stir in zest. Let the glaze cool completely before using. Once cooled, pour orange glaze over the arranged fruit. Let set in the refrigerator for a few hours (because it is better when cold).

This recipe is one of my favorites of all time and I can and have eaten almost an entire fruit tart.....not ashamed. A perfect dessert for summer and so light and refreshing.

Bon Appetit!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Celebrating the 4th with a Flag Cake.....

Last summer I wanted to make Ina's American Flag cake for the 4th of July but never got the chance to. So this year I was bound and determined to try this Flag cake recipe. We were going to Pat and Ray's house for a 4th of July bbq and thought that would be a perfect gathering to make it for. Plus Thad was super excited and supportive of me making it, which made it even more fun.

I love all that goes into cooking...finding the recipe, making it, decorating it and serving it to those I love and seeing the smiles on their faces which makes it all worth it.

I used Ina Garten's Flag Cake recipe. I loved how hers looked and the recipe sounded rich and divine. It turned out beautiful and was a hit at the 4th of July BBQ.

Flag Cake
18 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
3 cups sugar
6 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
To assemble:
2 half-pints blueberries
3 half-pints raspberries

1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 1/2 pounds cream cheese at room temperature
1 pound confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Begin by setting the oven to 350 degrees. Then butter and flour a 18 x 13 x 1 1/2 inch pan (I used a 18x13x.5 inch pan and it turn out fine). If you are going to decorate it outside of the pan also line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.

Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment on high speed, until light and fluffy. On medium speed, add the eggs, 2 at a time, then add the sour cream and vanilla. Scrape down the sides and stir until smooth and pretty.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture until just combined. Pour into the prepared pan. Smooth the top with a spatula. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick or knife comes out clean. Cool to room temperature. Since I was decorating the cake outside the pan, I let it cool completely and then laid out a sheet of parchment paper and turned the cake out onto the parchment paper.

For aesthetic and presentation I had gone to Hobby Lobby and purchased 13 x 19 inch cake boards (you can buy a set of 4 for under $5), I slid one board under the cake and one on top and turn it over and was able to get the cake cleanly on a cake board.

Next step is the frosting of the cake. All I did was make sure the cream cheese and butter were at room temperature. Then I combined the butter, cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mixing just until smooth. You want the end product to be light and smooth.

Once done with the frosting, place parchment or wax paper around the edges of the cake for easy clean-up and for a pretty presentation. Spread three-fourths of the frosting on the top of the cooled sheet cake.

Fill the upper left corner with blueberries. Placing 8 rows down and 12 blueberries across. Place 2 rows of raspberries across the top of the cake like a red stripe. Put the remaining icing in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe 2-3 rows of white stripes below the raspberries. Alternate rows of raspberries and icing until the flag is completed. Pipe stars on top of the blueberries.

I then let it chill for a few hours to set.

This cake will be the star (no pun intended) at any party and what better way to celebrate the 4th than with a American Flag Cake, plus it is a lot of fun to make.