Sunday, January 30, 2011

Coffee Kisses

A different kind of kiss.

Have you decided what you are going to do for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day? Zack and I actually don't do much fro Valentine's Day. For the past four years we have been celebrating by cooking a nice dinner at home, exchanging sappy cards, and eating a tasty dessert. Often there is also a large Reese's Peanut Butter Heart involved.

You see, Zack does not have to do anything special for me for Valentines Day because he does sweet things for me all the time. For instance, a couple months ago Zack went to Europe. For quite some time I have been trying to get my hands on a cookbook: Full on Irish: Creative Contemporary Cooking. I am a HUGE fan of Kevin Dundon's food. I found the cookbook on Amazon, but it was ridiculously expensive. I had this great idea that it would be cheaper in Europe. I had no idea that I was sending Zack on a wild goose chase. The sweet husband of mine looked in every bookstore he could find to no avail. Being the great guy that he is, he brought be back a different cookbook: The Great British Book of Baking. Of course, he did not realize that every recipe in the book required the use of a kitchen scale (something I did not own), but that was beside the point. Everything in the cookbook looked fantastic so I bought and kitchen scale and the first thing I made was these Coffee Kisses. I modified the recipe from the original and used my Mocha Buttercream recipe for the filling. Let me tell you, these cookie...oh I mean biscuits....are FANTASTIC!

Coffee Kisses
cookie recipe adapted from The Great British Book of Baking, Buttercream recipe by Baked Perfection

For the cookie:

350g (approx. 2 3/4 cups) all purpose flour
150g (approx. 3/4 cup) sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
200g (1 stick and 6 tablunsalted butter, chilled and diced
4 teaspoons instant espresso
2 egg

For the filling:

1 stick of unsalted butter, softened
2 rounded teaspoons instant espresso dissolved in 2 teaspoons hot water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a food processor, put the flour, baking soda, and sugar into the bowl and pulse a couple of time to just combine. Add the butter and process until the mixture looks like fine crumbs. Dissolve the coffee in 2 teaspoons hot water. Beat the eggs until frothy and mix into the coffee. Pour into the processor and run the machine until the dough comes just together.

Roll the dough into 1 teaspoon sized balls and arrange on a baking sheet leaving 1.5-2 inches between each cookie. Baked in the pre-heated oven 12-15 minutes, until light golden and firm to touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. While cooling, prepare the buttercream.

Beat together the butter, espresso mixture, and vanilla extract until smooth. Slowly add the powdered sugar until completely combined. If the mixture is too thick, add milk to thin.

Sandwich the cookies with the mocha buttercream.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

White Russian Cupcakes

The Dude would like these.

I have wanted to make these cupcakes since last May and have been waiting on an occasion. Boy am I glad that I finally had a chance to make them. The cupcake is made with both vodka and Kahlua and is then topped with a Kahlua buttercream. I served them on NYE and they were a huge hit. I am going to be honest with you, you could have put the buttercream on a shoe and I would have told you it was delicious. The cupcake was tasty on its own, but it was the buttercream that put it over the top. Now before you decide that you don't want to make this buttercream because it has alcohol in it and none of it will be baked off, I want to point out something. Kahlua is 20% alcohol by volume, vanilla extract is 35% alcohol by volume. Just wanted to point that out. I really do hope you try this recipe because it is amazing!

White Russian Cupcakes
cupcake recipe adapted from How to Eat a Cupcake, Buttercream recipe from Baked Perfection

makes 12 cupcakes

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons butter, softened
1 large egg and 1 egg white
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk
1/8 cup Vodka
1/4 cup Kahlua, divided

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a cupcake pan with paper liners.

In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. In a seperate bowl or in a stand mixer, beat together the sugar and butter until combined. Add egg and egg white, one at a time. Then add the vanilla, Vodka, and 1/8 cup of Kahlua. Gradually add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk in two additions, ending with the flour mixture.

Bake 17 -20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcakes comes out clean. While the cupcakes are still warm, brush the tops with the remaining 1/8 cup Kahlua. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Kahlua Buttercream
recipe from Baked Perfection

1 stick of butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3 - 4 tablespoons Kahlua

Beat butter until creamy. Add salt. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add Kahlua 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

French Macarons

Perhaps it was beginners luck.

Above: Vanilla Bean Macarons with Raspberry Mascarpone filling

Above: Chocolate Espresso Macarons with Caramel Buttercream Filling

I finally attempted to make Macarons and I would not have been successful or even willing to try without my friend Ellen. I met Ellen through Zack and boy am I glad that I did. She loves baking and cooking just as much as I do and she is great at it! First she and I made cinnamon buns right after Christmas (don't worry I will post those soon enough), then weI made Irish Car Bomb Cupcake and White Russian Cupcakes for NYE (those will also be shared with you). We were so successful with both those items that we decided to attempt Macarons together.

I have put off making Macarons for this long because all I have heard is that they are really difficult to make. Ellen inspires me to bake new things and with her no fear attitude we set a date. Both Ellen and I read quite a bit on how to be successful making Macarons and it paid off. They turned out perfectly! We made two types: Vanilla Bean Macarons with a Raspberry Mascarpone filling and Chocolate Espresso Macarons with a Caramel Buttercream filling. I have never had Macarons in Paris, but Ellen has had many there and thought ours were just as good if not better. She actually said in regards to the Chocolate Espresso Macarons "This may be the best dessert I have ever had." Coming from Ellen that means a lot! The Macarons were really not as scary or difficult as I thought they would be. Below are a few tips that I think will help you. For more detailed information on perfection Macarons visit Tartlette's website.

Tips:

1) You need a kitchen scale, food processor, parchment paper, a large piping tip, and preferably a stand mixer.
2) Separate your egg whites 3 days in advance and leave them in a container in the fridge.
3) Measure all your ingredients and prepare your baking sheets in advance.
4) Don't be afraid to fail.

Vanilla Bean Macarons with Raspberry Mascarpone Filling
recipe adapted from Tartelette

For the shells:

90 grams egg whites (use egg whites that have been left in the fridge 3-5 days)
25 grams granulated sugar
200 grams powdered sugar
110 grams almond meal/flour
1/2 a vanilla bean

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, white the egg whites to a foam. Gradually add the granulated sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not over bear your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar, almond meal, and beans of the vanilla bean in a food processor and pulse until well mixed. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first and then slow down. The batter should fall back on itself and flatten. Fill a pastry bag with a plain tip (I used an Ateco #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1 in in diameter, as they will spread) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.

For the filling:

4 oz. mascarpone, room temperature
2-3 tablespoons good quality raspberry preserves

In a small bowl, whisk together the mascarpone and preserves together until well incorporated. Fill a small piping bag with the filling and pipe it in the center of each shell. Store macarons in the fridge.

Above: Vanilla Bean Macarons with Raspberry Mascarpone filling

Chocolate Espresso Macarons with Caramel Buttercream Filling
Macaron recipe adapted from Tartlette, Buttercream recipe from Tish Boyle

For the shells:

90 grams egg whites (use egg whites that have been left in the fridge 3-5 days)
25 grams granulated sugar
200 grams powdered sugar
110 grams almond meal/flour
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, white the egg whites to a foam. Gradually add the granulated sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not over bear your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar, almond meal, the espresso powder and cocoa powder in a food processor and pulse until well mixed. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first and then slow down. The batter should fall back on itself and flatten. Fill a pastry bag with a plain tip (I used an Ateco #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1 in in diameter, as they will spread) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.

For the Caramel Buttercream recipe you can find it here: Tish Boyle Sweet Dreams. It is possibly the best buttercream I have had in my life. We followed the recipe with the exception of using light brown sugar because that is what we had on hand and making our own corn syrup substitute because we did not have any corn syrup. The recipe for corn syrup substitute is really easy and worked perfectly. Here is the recipe in case you are interested: Corn Syrup Substitute

Above: Chocolate Espresso Macarons with Caramel Buttercream Filling

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sugar Cookie Cupcakes with Very Vanilla Frosting and a Cupcake Cupcake Topper

This was my birthday cupcake.

For those of you that know me, you know my birthday was back in November. These adorable little cupcakes were in fact the cupcakes I made for my birthday. You see, I made a lot of cupcakes in 2010 which have now turned in a backlog of recipes and pictures that I need to share with you. In total I have seven cupcake recipes that I want to share with you. I thought about doing a month of cupcakes, but I don't want you to get bored so I am going to spread them out. It works out well because this is my busiest time of year at work and I may not be baking every week.

Anyway, back to these cupcakes. Vanilla has to be one of my favorite flavors, if not my favorite. Since I love vanilla so much I decided that was exactly what I wanted for my birthday. The last several years Zack baked my birthday treat, but unfortunately he was out of town for work on my birthday this past year. Several people offered to make me something, but I really wanted to make these cupcakes and that is exactly what I did. They were so delicious! The cupcake was wonderful and the frosting is my absolute favorite frosting. I have to chew gum while making it and decorating or else I eat it straight out of the bowl. I got the idea for the adorable little cupcake toppers (which are frosted mini Reese's cups) from Confessions of a Cookbook Queen. She has a ton of great stuff on her blog, so if you have not checked it out, you definitely should.

Sugar Cookie Cupcakes
recipe by Baked Perfection

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups sour cream

In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the vanilla; mix well. Add the flour mixture to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream (batter will be thick). Fill greased or paper-lined muffin cups with 1/4 cup of batter. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Recipe makes approximately 30 cupcakes.

Very Vanilla Frosting
recipe by Baked Perfection

2 sticks of butter, softened
6 cups powdered sugar
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons vanilla extract
2 -4 tablespoons milk

Beat butter and vanilla until creamy. Add salt. Add powdered sugar 1 cup at a time, beating until combined. Add milk 1 tablespoon at a time until you reach desired consistency.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Best of 2010

I wasn't going to post a best of Baked Perfection list...but I changed my mind. You can click on any of the images below and it will take you to the page.

The most visited pages on Baked Perfection in 2010 were:

Number 10: Cookie Dough Pops



Number 9: Cake Balls



Number 8
: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins



Number 7: Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies



Number 6
: Halloween Brownie Pops



Number 5: White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies



Number 4: S'mores Cookie Bars



Number 3: Cinnamon Sugar Donut Muffins



Number 2: Butterscotch Pecan Sandies



Number 1:
S'mores Cookies



If you are wondering what my favorite thing was that I made during 2010, it is a tie between my Pecan Pie and my S'mores Ice Cream. I would eat either one everyday if I could...and my pants would still fit.

S'mores Ice Cream



Pecan Pie

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Cherry Almond Coffee Cake with Cream Cheese Glaze

You better eat this quick!


From time to time the nice people over at Lucky Leaf as me if I am interested in some samples of their products and some recipes. Of course I say yes. The only problem is, with my long lists of things I want to make some times it take me a while to actually getting around to using those items. This past month i finally got the chance to make a recipe using Cherry Pie Filling sent from Lucky Leaf. I did not want to make a pie to I searched their website for other recipes. I finally decided on a Cherry Coffee Cake and it was delicious! There was one little issue with this recipe though. I made it on a Tuesday evening hoping Zack could take it to work the next day to share with his co-workers. The cake was great out of the oven when Zack and I had a little taste, but my the next morning it was really soggy from all the moisture in the pie filling. So the take away here, still make this because it is delicious and easy, just plan on eating it fresh and not waiting until the next day.

I also wanted to let you guys know that the Lucky Leaf Made with Love Recipe Contest is underway. The grand prize of the contest wins $4,000. More information on the contest, as well as rules and regulations, can be found here:http://www.luckyleaf.com/Promotions/MadeWithLove/.

Cherry Almond Coffee Cake
recipe adapted from Lucky Leaf

1 (18 oz.) package yellow cake mix, divided
2/3 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 (21 oz.) can Lucky Leaf Cherry Pie Filling
1/3 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir together 1 1/2 cups cake mix, 2/3 cup milk, eggs, vanilla and almond extracts. Pour into a greased 13x9 baking pan. Top with pie filling. Cut butter into remaining cake mix. Mix until crumbly. Sprinkle over pie filling. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack. Drizzle glaze over cake when it is mostly cooled.

Cream Cheese Glaze
recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

3 oz. cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons powdered sugar, plus extra if needed
2 tablespoons milk, plus extra if needed
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Beat cream cheese with powdered sugar until smooth and light. Add milk, vanilla, and almond extract. You want the mixture to me the consistency of corn syrup, pourable, but not too thick. Add milk/sugar until you reach desired consistency.