Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cupcake Hero - September Edition

Behold! The cupcake of my dreams...

As if I needed an excuse to bake, I stumbled upon the awesomeness that is Cupcake Hero & decided immediately that I MUST compete. This month's theme ingredient is banana. Being a Southerner, my cupcake plan of attack was so obvious: Banana Pudding Cupcakes. The cupcake itself has a very light banana flavor and is filled with, of course, banana pudding. Then the cupcake is iced in vanilla buttercream. For those not familiar with legit banana pudding, it's not that faux-banana-flavored stuff that comes in a box. It is, in fact, vanilla custard layered with slices of banana and vanilla wafers.

For the cake batter I tweaked this recipe. Instead of the almond extract I added about a half teaspoon of banana flavoring. This gave the cake a slight banana flavor - not at all overpowering. I filled cupcake papers all the way to the top and baked for about 30 minutes in a 350º oven. The cake came out incredibly light and airy. Yield: 20 cupcakes

Once the cupcakes were cool, I cut out all the "cake holes" with a sharp knife - make sure the cavity goes pretty deep into the cupcake so that you have enough room for a good amount of filling! My hubby gobbled up a bunch of the cake holes with buttercream icing - he was a happy camper.

In each hole I dropped a slice of banana, then filled all the way to the top with vanilla pudding (I totally cheated and used Jello Cook & Serve - I started to make the custard from scratch and it would not thicken for the life of me). On top of the pudding I placed a vanilla wafer (I actually used minis) - the bonus here is that it provides some stability - icing over a gaping pool of pudding would be a little tougher.

Once iced in vanilla buttercream, I added the finishing touch - another vanilla wafer on top of each cupcake. Voila! Banana Pudding Cupcake.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Double (Brownie) trouble

Why make a single brownie when you could make a double brownie? This tasty bar is out of the Taste of Home Baking Book. The caramel icing is what makes this recipe - it just wouldn't be right without it.

Blondie Layer:
1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/4 c packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 c all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Cream together the butter & brown sugar. Beat in eggs & vanilla. Add the flour and salt. Stir in the walnuts. Spread into greased 13 x 9 inch pan & set aside.

Brownie Layer:
1/2 c butter, softened
1 c granulated sugar
2 eggs
3/4 c all purpose flour
1/4 c cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c chopped walnuts

Cream together the butter & sugar. Beat in eggs & vanilla. Add the flour, cocoa, and salt. Stir in the walnuts. Spread carefully on top of bottom layer. Bake at 350º for 35-40 minutes. Cool completely.

Caramel Icing:
6 tbs butter
3/4 c packed brown sugar
4 to 6 tbs milk
2 1/2 c confectioners' sugar

Melt butter in saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar & milk and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Cool until just warm. Beat into confectioners' sugar until the icing has a spreadable consistency. Spread over brownies. Let stand until icing is set before cutting into bars.

Will the real June Cleaver please stand up?

Lest anyone in blogland have any illusions, I do not hold myself out to be a better baker than anyone else. June Cleaver never would have done this: I know why you turn off the mixer when cracking eggs. Baking FAIL.

Carry on.

Dirty little tart

If ever there was a "celebrity" chef I'd want to meet in real life, it's Paula Deen. She strikes me as the type of person you can't help smiling around, and her butter-laden recipes never fail to make me drool. True to form, this fresh fruit tart is YUMMY. I took this one to a party at my boss' house yesterday and it was a big hit.

The crust all patted into place and ready to go into the oven.

The sweet cream cheese filling spread in the the bottom of the pre-baked crust.

It was all I could do not to hoover the fruit before it ever made it into the tart.

I don't mean to toot my own horn, but it kinda looks like I knew what I was doing, right?

And look how shiny it is from the glaze, oooooh.